ESPN Films today announced a new 30 for 30 documentary, “Of Miracles and Men,” that will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The film, directed by Jonathan Hock (“The Best That Never Was” and “Survive and Advance”), will take a different look at the “Miracle on Ice.”
The story of one of the greatest upsets in sports history has been told. Or has it? On a Friday evening in Lake Placid, a plucky band of American collegians stunned the vaunted Soviet national team, 4-3 in the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympic hockey competition. Americans couldn’t help but believe in miracles that night, and when the members of Team USA won the gold medal two days later, they became one for the ages.
But there was another, unchronicled side to the “Miracle On Ice.” The so-called bad guys from America’s ideological adversary were in reality good men and outstanding players, forged into the Big Red Machine by the genius and passion of Anatoli Tarasov. There was a reason they seemed unbeatable, especially after routing the Americans in an exhibition the week before the Winter Games began. And there was a certain shame in them having to live the rest of their lives with the results of February 22, 1980.
“Of Miracles and Men” will explore the scope of the “Miracle on Ice” through the Soviet lens with an intense focus on the game itself, giving it renewed suspense and a fresh perspective. But the journey of the stunned Soviet team didn’t begin – or end – in Lake Placid. In the wake of that famous loss, head coach Viktor Tikhonov and captain Slava Fetisov waged a personal battle that determined the future of Russian hockey.
“Somewhat similar to how our 30 for 30 film ‘The Two Escobars’ gave viewers a chance to look at the stunning defeat of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup from a different point of view, ‘Of Miracles and Men’ provides an opportunity to experience America’s shocking victory 35 years ago from the other side,” says ESPN Films Executive Producer John Dahl. “For example, we all know the famous Al Michaels call of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ but this time people will also hear how legendary Soviet broadcaster Nikolai Ozerov described the action. ‘Of Miracles and Men’ will give the audience a deeper understanding of what the Soviet hockey experience was like before, during and after that monumental event.”
Says director Jonathan Hock: “Of all the 30 For 30 films I’ve directed, ‘Of Miracles and Men’ is the most ambitious. I was raised in the 1970’s on the notion that Soviet hockey players were robots, part of a machine that played a heartless style of hockey. But given the beauty and creativity of their game, that never made sense to me. So I wanted to discover the truth about the men on the other side of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ game. It took us two years to dig up all the archival footage and find all the players, filming across seven time zones in Russia from Moscow to Siberia to Vladivostok. What we discovered was that, both before and after Lake Placid, something miraculous happened on their side as well. This is their story, about their ‘Miracle.’”
“Of Miracles and Men” is produced by Hock Films, with executive producer Maura Mandt and producer Don Kempf. Additional information including film clips and director statements and bios will be available on the 30 for 30 website espn.com/30for30; Follow 30 for 30 on Facebook (facebook.com/espn30for30) and Twitter (@30for30).
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning, Producer’s Guild Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. The strong reaction from both critics and fans led to the launch of 30 for 30 Volume II, which is currently underway. Additional projects from ESPN Films include the critically acclaimed Nine for IX series, SEC Storied and the Webby Award-winning 30 for 30 Shorts.