ESPN Films will debut a new 30 for 30 Shorts documentary, “Mack Wrestles,” on Sunday, September 22, at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN and 4:30 p.m. ET on ABC. The 25-minute film premiered at SXSW Film Festival earlier this year and has screened at numerous film festivals including Tribeca, Dallas, Inside Out, AFI Docs and Frameline.
“Mack Wrestles,” co-directed by Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger, takes the audience behind the scenes as Mack Beggs, a gifted athlete from Euless, Texas, struggles against the outside forces that stigmatize transgender athletes. Wrestling is brutal enough. There are the demands for strength and speed and stamina, the hours bathed in sweat, the knowledge that your opponent wants to wipe the mat with you. Those were the very reasons, though, that Beggs loved the sport—it gave him a sense of purpose and a sense of self.
Despite all the turmoil, this poignant film makes one thing perfectly clear: If life were a wrestling match, the referee would be raising Mack’s arm at the end.
“Mack’s story touches at the heart of the debate around sports and who gets to play them,” said Katie Barnes, ESPN writer/reporter and executive producer of “Mack Wrestles.” “Often that debate forgets the humanity of these young people who want to play sports. It’s hard to look away from Mack’s humanity.”
Erin Sanger is a writer and director whose work spans both documentary and narrative films. Her work has screened at over fifty film festivals internationally including SXSW and Tribeca Film Festivals. She is a Wasserman Award Winner, Student Academy Award nominee, Webby Award Honoree, and her directorial work has been featured on National Geographic, The Atlantic, PBS, Topic, and Hulu. She is currently completing her first feature, which received NYU’s Richard Vague Production Fund grant.
Taylor Hess is a filmmaker, journalist, and contributing editor for Filmmaker Magazine. She recently associate produced a pilot for CNN Films and has worked as a researcher for Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions on Enhanced, an ESPN documentary series that debuted at the 2018 Tribeca International Film Festival. She’s worked for the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) and for Scott Rudin Productions.
Press screeners of “Mack Wrestles” are available upon request.
About ESPN Films
ESPN Films has been an industry leader in documentary filmmaking since its inception in March 2008, producing more than 100 documentaries that have showcased some of the most compelling stories in sports. The high quality of storytelling, highlighted by the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 series and the Academy-Award winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” has led to record viewership as well as multiple honors and critical acclaim. Additional projects from ESPN Films over the years have included 30 for 30 Shorts, Nine for IX and the SEC Storied series.