A movie has no limitation. Anything goes on the 70mm in the name of entertainment and experimentation. Documentaries don't have this peculiar luxury; especially those based on either a sport or its practitioner.
However, the behind the scene harsh realities make up for the lack of drama. Athletes tend to lead a strenuous life and a film based on them is more than willing to highlight these unseen aspects.
No wonder we're witnessing a rise in sports-based documentaries. With Kunal Nayyar's cricket-based documentary Beyond All Boundaries (above) up for a rare Friday release, hitlist walks you through must-watch real-life films:
Directors: Daniel Lindsay, TJ Martin
Lowdown: A true story about the gradual rise of a low-placed football team under a determined coach, this documentary is indeed a marvel. Amusingly rejected by Sundance festival in 2012 only to grab the Best Documentary Award at the Oscars later, director duo shot the entire film without any external lighting or boom mic.
TT3D: Closer to the Edge (2011)
Director: Richard De Aragues
Lowdown: Formula 1 (F1) may be the fastest form of terrestrial sports but given its rather clean track record, it certainly isn't the most dangerous form of road racing. That honour goes to TT or The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Some of the planet's finest riders assemble for this bike race, knowing what's on stake.
Fire in Babylon (2010)
Director: Stevan Riley
Lowdown: No other sport had a more long-lasting champion than cricket. And West Indies — ironically not even a nation but a group of island-states — dominated it for a really long period of time. This documentary pays tribute to that lost era and what it really took to subvert racism while making the gentleman's game worth its name.
Deep Water (2006)
Directors: Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell
Lowdown: In 1968, lured by the cash prize, a British businessman named Donald Crowhurst entered an around-the-world yacht competition. However, what followed next was a tale populated by deceit and tragedy. Although he couldn't complete his set target, he ended up contributing to a remarkable adventurous story.
Directors: Leon Gast, Ryan Moore
Lowdown: About a Filipino boxer who took to boxing surprise by surprise but not before surprising himself. The film, narrated by actor Liam Neeson, beautifully covers his journey from being a school dropout to someone Philippines as a nation looks up to not only inside the boxing ring but also in the political arena.
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
Director: Stacy Peralta
Lowdown: Narrated by actor Sean Penn, the film takes us back to the age when skateboarding actually entered pop culture not just in the USA but around the world. And as is the case with almost all sports around the world, those from the underprivileged lot helped raise the credibility of the sport by their active participation and relentless innovation.
Michael Jordan to the Max (2000)
Directors: Don Kempf, James D Stern
Lowdown: In a team sport, very few athletes have come close to Michael Jordan as far as creating magic under pressure is concerned. But he wouldn't always have a great day in office. He had his share of downfalls, too. And that's what this engaging documentary tries to balance out. His legacy is intact but not without mistakes.
Touching the Void (2003)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Lowdown: According to some film critics, it's the The Shawshank Redemption of documentaries, and not just sports documentaries. Revolving around two climbers who scaled the Peruvian Andes in 1985, their story is compelling enough to make you feel the utter coldness they suffered in the heart of the heartless mountain.
The Crash Reel (2013)
Director: Lucy Walker
Lowdown: Two childhood friends whose only ambition in life was to make a mark in extreme sports. This was before they became the world's top two snowboarders. Their story is amazing to say the least — not to mention their friendship's friction with professional rivalry and a near-fatal accident that ruins the plot.
Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Lowdown: After watching this intriguing documentary, you'll wonder whether to patronise a person in a wheelchair or be in awe of what that person is fully capable of. An exceptional story of quadriplegic athletes who play wheelchair rugby — and how. The finest part about this film is it showcases them what they are: People like us.
The Class of 92 (2013)
Directors: Benjamin Turner, Gabe Turner
Lowdown: Manchester United might be struggling to keep steady with its good ol' form but if one goes back to the club's emergence in the English Premier League era, it's impossible to overlook the fabulous entry of a group of extremely talented kids from the club's youth academy, or their everlasting impact.
Director: Asif Kapadia
Lowdown: A fast-paced film about a legend whose premature death ensured safety standards in F1 sports. There's a moment in this film where a Brazilian weeps in memory of Aryton Senna. According to this bystander, there are very few things that bring joy to the economically-challenged Brazilians. Senna was one of them.