New Collection from Producers of “30 for 30” Captures Remarkable Women in Sports through the Lenses of AcclaimedFemale Filmmakers
Executive Produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal
ESPN Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Team Marketing, announced today that they will release the “Nine for IX DVD Gift Set” on October 15, 2013. From the producers of ESPN Films’ award-winning “30 for 30” series and executive produced by Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal and Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, this four-disc collection includes all nine titles from the Nine for IX series, plus two bonus films: the award-winning ESPN Films’ short, Coach and the SEC Storied film, Abby Head On.
Inspired by the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking law which banned sex discrimination in college athletics and created opportunities for countless female athletes, the Nine for IX series consists of nine feature documentaries highlighting iconic athletes and moments that have impacted the culture of female sports in the last 40 years. Each film is directed by acclaimed female filmmakers. Nine for IX debuted on ESPN on July 2, 2013, with the broadcast premiere of “Venus Vs.,” detailing Venus Williams’ battle to change the long-standing practice of awarding women tennis players less money at Wimbledon and the French Open. The series concludes on August 27.
“Title IX indelibly changed the world of sports, creating new opportunities for women to get involved with sports at the collegiate and professional levels,” said ESPN Films Vice President Connor Schell. “The Nine for IX series celebrates Title IX with an extraordinary collection of inspiring stories directed by a powerhouse group of Academy and Emmy award-winning female filmmakers.”
This four-disc set includes all nine films from the Nine for IX series, plus two bonus films, the award-winning short Coach and SEC Storied film Abby Head On, in addition to bonus features including director’s statements, deleted scenes and extended interviews. The “Nine for IX DVD Gift Set” will be available for purchase on October 15 and pre-order on September 3 at ESPN Shop.com, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and major retailers wherever DVDs are sold. The suggested retail price is $29.95.
The films included in the collection are:
Venus Vs. (Directed by Ava DuVernay)
Everyone knows about the swing. Everyone knows about the swagger. But what most Americans don’t know about Venus Williams is how she changed the course of her sport. In a stunning case that captured the attention of the European public beginning in 2005, Williams challenged the long-held practice of paying women tennis players less money than their male counterparts at the French Open and Wimbledon. With a deep sense of obligation to the legacy of Billie Jean King, Williams lobbied Parliament, UNESCO and Fleet Street for financial parity. Indeed, it was her poignant op-ed piece in The London Times that convinced many people that the tournament organizers at Wimbledon were “on the wrong side of history.” The boys clubs at Roland Garros and Wimbledon finally relented in 2007. In fact, it was at Wimbledon that year that Venus became the first women’s champion to earn as much as the men’s (Roger Federer). So to her seven major championships, another victory can be added.
Pat XO (Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern / Produced by Robin Roberts)
On April 18, 2012, Pat Summit, the winningest coach in the history of the NCAA basketball, did the unimaginable and announced her resignation from the University of Tennessee. On the very same day, her son Tyler was named assistant coach of the Marquette’s women’s basketball team, his first job out of college. While the sports world reeled from the news of Pat’s early on-set Alzheimer’s, the coach and her son quietly set out to beat this challenge just as they had every other – with grace, humor and most of all, each other. Pat XO tells the remarkable story of Pat Summit as it’s never been told before. This raw, authentic portrait takes the camera from the filmmaker’s hands and places it into those who know her best. With Tyler as the lead storyteller, moving recollections are shared by assistant coaches, players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Michelle Marciniak, fellow coach Geno Auriemma, and such admirers as Peyton Manning and Kenny Chesney. The archival footage and statistical records woven into the film provide their own insights into a woman who cared about winning, but also about elevating her players and her university. If it’s possible to do justice to Pat Summitt, Pat XO does it.
The Diplomat (Directed by Jennifer Arnold and Senain Khesghi)
At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes. Trained in an ice rink that gave rise to socialist heroes, Witt dominated her field by winning six European skating titles, five world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals to become arguably the world’s best figure skater. Known as “the most beautiful face of socialism” her success gave her a unique status in East Germany. It also triggered constant surveillance by the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police force. This film chronicles how Witt, one of the greatest skaters of all time, fought for her future in socialist East Germany, how she faced the great changes that occurred after the fall of The Berlin Wall and, ultimately, how she ended up both a beneficiary and victim of the East German regime.
Runner (Directed by Shola Lynch)
Mary Decker obliterated opponents and records with blazing speed and a starving hunger to win. She dominated her sport, holding U.S. records in every distance from 800 to 10,000 meters, and she did it all without the Olympics. She was too young in ’72, hurt in ’76 and shut out by the U.S. boycott in ’80. As Sports Illustrated’s cover “Sportswoman of the Year” in 1983, she was ready: 1984 was the target, with the Olympics in Los Angeles and her skills at their 25 year-old peak. But the story leads to a single shocking moment in the 1984 Games, with Mary writhing on the ground in physical pain and emotional heartbreak, with the whole world watching.
No Limits (Directed by Alison Ellwood)
As a teenager, Audrey Mestre suffered from scoliosis, but in those formative years, she discovered a passion for the ocean. It offered her a sense of freedom, and the burdens she faced on dry land soon dissipated as she slipped below the surface. In the final stages of her PH.D., Mestre was drawn to Cabo San Lucas where she became infatuated with free-diver Pipin Ferreras, a Cuban defector whose dives had put him at the forefront of the sport. The two became a couple and Mestre followed the elusive, often raucous Pipin on his almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater. Soon enough, Mestre moved from support team member to ardent free-diver and then to a world-class competitor who outshone her husband. In 2002, after news arrived that a rival female diver named Tanya Streeter had successfully gone to a record-breaking 525 feet, Pipin began preparations for Mestre to make a 561-foot dive off the coast of the CanaryIsland. Having completed practice dives even deeper in the weeks leading up to the record attempt, Mestre was prepared. But because of a fateful decision before the dive, Mestre never resurfaced alive.
Branded (Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady)
Anna Kournikova was never the greatest tennis player in the world. In fact, she never rose higher than No. 8 on the WTA world singles rankings. But her looks and willingness to capitalize on them made her the most famous tennis player on the planet and ultimately, a pioneer for fellow women athletes who understand that sometimes, sex sells. Sports is supposed to be the ultimate level playing field, but in the media and on Madison Avenue sometimes looks matter more than accomplishments. This film explores the double standard placed on women athletes to be the best players on the field and the sexiest off them. Branded explores the question: can women’s sports ever gain an equal footing with their male counterparts or will sex always override achievement?
Let Them Wear Towels (Directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern)
Lisa Olson was just trying to do her job as a reporter for the Boston Herald in 1990 when a group of New England Patriot players sexually harassed her in their locker room by exposing their genitals and making lewd and vulgar comments. Even though a subsequent NFL investigation concluded that Olson had been “degraded and humiliated,” the 25-year-old continued to be tormented by Patriot fans—so much so that she temporarily moved to Australia to resume her career. In the meantime, the story touched off a national debate about the presence of female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse. That debate should have been settled 12 years earlier, when Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated successfully challenged Major League Baseball after she was kept out of the New York Yankees locker room. Why had equal access for women reporters remained such a hot-button issue? That question is asked in Let Them Wear Towels, a history and examination of females working in the man’s world of the locker room. Through interviews with such pioneer women as Ludtke, Claire Smith, Lesley Visser and Jane Gross, you’ll hear stories of raw behavior and humorous retaliation, angry lawsuits and remarkable resolve.
Swoopes (Directed by Hannah Storm)
Sheryl Swoopes has famously been labeled as the female Michael Jordan. Actually, she’s far more interesting. On the court, she was nearly as dominant as Michael: a national championship with Texas Tech, three Olympic gold medals, three MVP awards and four consecutive championships with the Houston Comets of the WNBA, the league she helped start. She even had a Nike shoe named after her, the Air Swoopes. Off the court, she gave birth in the middle of her first WNBA championship season, divorced her high school sweetheart, and became the highest-profile athlete in her sport to declare she was gay. She has struggled with love, family, money and lack of recognition, but she has never lost her spirit. In this portrait, viewers will meet someone who’s not the everyday superstar, a woman who has defied a multitude of labels, including “old” – in August 2011, Swoopes, at 40, hit a buzzer-beater to end the Tulsa Shock’s 20-game losing streak.
The ‘99ers (Directed by Erin Leyden / Produced by Julie Foudy)
The world of women’s sports was kicked upside down on July 10, 1999. Before a sold-out crowd of more than 90,000 at the Rose Bowl and an estimated 40 million Americans watching on television, the women’s soccer team reached a cultural and athletic pinnacle with its penalty-kick shoot-out victory over China to win the Women’s World Cup. These players were more than the ponytailed poster girls celebrated by mainstream media. As told through the voice of longtime team captain, Julie Foudy, viewers get an inside look at the strong team ethic and rare “do for each other” mentality that propelled them to victory that day and turned the team into a cultural touchstone. With unprecedented access, the film uses candid, behind-the-scenes footage shot by the players themselves during the tournament to present a unique portrait of the women who irrevocably changed the face of women’s athletics. Reuniting key players from the 1999 squad and talking with current U.S. players as well, the film examines how women’s soccer – and women’s sports as a whole – has changed since that epic day at the Rose Bowl.
Coach (Directed by Bess Kargman; Executive Producer Whoopi Goldberg)
C. Vivian Stringer is one of the most prolific coaches in the history of college basketball. She was the first to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four (Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Iowa and Rutgers) and received the highest honor of all in 2009 — a place alongside Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan and David Robinson as an inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Coach Stringer became more well known to the non-sports world in 2007, when the words “nappy headed hoes” were used to describe the group of young women she led, in spite of tremendous odds, to the National Championship game that same year. Perhaps because Stringer is also a mother whose career successes have been intertwined with personal tragedy, her response to the 2007 incident showed she wasn’t just a great coach, but the perfect example of grace under fire.
Abby Head On (Directed by Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby)
A phenom from Rochester, NY, Abby Wambach defied convention by spurning soccer dynasty North Carolina in favor of the University of Florida, an upstart program which, at the time, was only in its fourth year of existence. That decision paid off quickly, as in her 1998 freshman season Wambach helped the Gators nab the SEC’s first and only national championship in soccer – defeating the powerhouse Tar Heels in the final. Wambach cemented her spot in soccer lore in a quarterfinal match against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup, scoring a signature goal with her head in the waning seconds of extra time to prevent an embarrassing early exit from the tournament. Wambach’s heroics propelled her team to victory and ignited interest in women’s soccer.
Currently the holder of the US women’s international scoring record, Wambach has made her mark on the sport and become one of the best this country has ever produced.
More information and a trailer for Nine for IX can be viewed at espnW.com.
About Nine for IX
ESPN Films and espnW present Nine for IX, executive produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal, featuring nine documentary films about women in sports directed by Oscar-nominated, Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning female filmmakers. Inspired by the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the series will air over nine consecutive Tuesdays on ESPN at 8 PM ET beginning July 2, 2013. Stories include Venus Williams fight for equal pay at Wimbledon, the largely unknown history of Katarina Witt and her link with East Germany’s secret police, an intimate look at Pat Summitt—college sports’ most successful coach ever, and the business of sex in the marketing of female athletes. For more information and summaries visit: Nine for IX Media Kit
About ESPN Home Entertainment
ESPN Home Entertainment is an established industry leader, overseeing the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution of ESPN Films’ award-winning documentaries to sports fans across multiple platforms including DVD and digital media via electronic sell-through, streaming, video-on-demand, and mobile. ESPN Home Entertainment is one of many business units within ESPN, Inc., the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 business entities.
About Team Marketing
Team Marketing, a division of Wax Works / Videoworks, is a leading distributor of sports related content on DVD. Headquartered in Owensboro, Kentucky, Team Marketing works in partnership with all the major studios as well as independent producers and suppliers of sports content to deliver top tier releases on DVD to retailers and sub-distributors across the United States and Canada.