Movie News & Reviews

Festival documentaries focus on sports and related issues

Joe Roth, who died at 21
Joe Roth, who died at 21

The Sacramento Kings documentary “Playing To Win” tips off a diverse group of sports-themed films at the 2015 Sacramento International Film Festival.

“Don’t Quit: The Joe Roth Story” (7 p.m. Tuesday, Delta King) tells the story of the highly promising mid-1970s Cal Golden Bears quarterback who died just after his senior season from melanoma. Filmmakers Phil Schaaf and Bob Rider, both Cal graduates, interviewed Roth’s family members as well as his Bears teammates and his coach, Mike White.

“We want to (lead) a new generation to Joe’s biography,” Schaaf said about making the film about the only Bears football player to have his number (12) retired. “And use it as an example to raise awareness about melanoma – this awful, predatory disease that took him at 21.”

Narrated by ABC Sports veteran Keith Jackson, who interviewed Roth in the 1970s, “Don’t Quit” documents Roth’s refusal to give in to his illness, playing through the 1976 season despite his failing health.

Bay Area sports memories also factor in the short doc “The Anti-Mascot” (7 p.m. Saturday as part of the sold-out “All Things Must Pass” screening at the Tower, and 4 p.m. May 3 in the “NorCal Allstars part II” shorts program at the Delta King).

“Anti-Mascot,” made by “All Things” filmmakers Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart, chronicles the abuse-taking Crazy Crab, the San Francisco Giants’ mascot during the 1984 season.

“We found out about this wonderful, vaudevillian actor (Wayne Doba) who got shoved into that outfit and basically was abused for 80 home games,” Stuart said. “People were throwing batteries at him. … And the Giants let it happen because it was a distraction from the horrible team they put on the field that year.”

An ESPN/ 30 for 30 Short, it can be viewed starting May 20 on ESPN’s website, Stuart said.

A 10-year-old Canadian transgender girl, who wants to play sports but cannot at her school, finds support from a collective of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning roller-derby participants in the feature-length doc “In the Turn” (7 p.m. Thursday Delta King).

Carla Meyer