India’s first Sports Film Festival opened yesterday at the Alliance Française in Delhi. Set to Screen as many as 22 sports films, The Tiger Paw Sports Film Festival has been organized by Numinous Films and Karrtoos Sports Management in association with the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival. The festival will close with the Award ceremony on August 29.

Sudeep Misra, former sports journalist and the director of the festival, says, “The idea is to bring a sports film festival in India wherein film and documentary makers get an opportunity to showcase their films on various aspects and of different sporting disciplines.”
The three-day festival is divided into categories like Super Short Film, Super Short Documentary, Feature Film, Short Documentary, Feature Documentary and News Feature for News Channel. “We received over 80 short movies and film documentaries from across the world, including from countries like Kazakhstan and Mongolia. In fact, Ted Green’s Undefeated: The Roger Brown Story, will be screened for the first time in India during the festival,”  Misra mentioned.
Misra along with four other jury members selected the films for the festival; a process he describes as extremely grilling. “Apart from seeing the technical aspects and narrative, the factual correctness and research was extremely important. This is what separates these films from a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag; it’s about real people and real lives and accurate details,” he says.
The films being shown are varied. From Mason’s Nawang Gombu: Heart of a Tiger that tells the story of a Sherpa who became the first man to climb Mount Everest twice to Ladies Turn, a film by Helen Harder about a woman football player in Senegal where “soccer is king”.
There are also three special screenings, including Senna, a 2010-documentary film based on the life of Brazilian Formula 1 champion Ayrton Senna, who was killed in an accident while leading in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix; Sleeping Giant: An Indian Football Story, a 2012 documentary by UK-based film-maker Daniel Glynn that revolves around two boys Shaun and Hussein from Mumbai who go to London and learn football. The Warrior Prince: Sourav Ganguly by Kolkata-based Mitali Ghoshal is based on the life of the former cricketer.
The Karims: A Sporting Dynasty features the story of Aasif Karim, a tennis champion, who represented Kenya in cricket for 23 years, playing four Associate Trophies and three World Cups, including his famous performance against the World Champions Australia in the 2003 World Cup.
In India, cricket might rule the roost, but for the festival jury at Tiger Paw, it was just another game. “For instance, I really liked this documentary on 200 years of Irish cricket, but it wasn’t selected as the criteria was not to select the stories on popular subjects but on the quality,” Misra stated.
The notion of sports documentaries is yet to gain momentum in India, and that probably explains why only three Indian documentary film-makers submitted their work. But according to Misra, part of the problem is also the lack of advertising and awareness. “To start with, the aim of the festival is to gain an audience for sports-based cinema in India. However, from next year, the festival will go on for five days, and will be publicized heavily on social media. Even the submissions for 2014 festival will start by October this year”, says Misra.