Sports Spotlight | ParkRecord.com

Sports Spotlight

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

It may be the off-season for lacrosse, but things are in full swing on the big screen.

Among a heavy list of sport-themed movies at Sundance is "Toe to Toe." The movie, written, directed and produced by Emily Abt, takes a poignant look at race relations on the backdrop of a high school lacrosse field.

Abt, now 34, has been in the movie-making business since she was very young and already has three feature length-films to her credit. "Toe to Toe" is her first fiction-based film.

The movie takes place in the greater Washington, D.C., area. It focuses on the relationship between two members of a lacrosse team at a prep high school in the area who seem to go head-to-head and toe-to-toe a lot. The Caucasian Jesse hails from the posh area of Bethesda, while the African American Tosha is from Anacostia, a historically black, poor working class neighborhood. The girls eventually build a relationship, but not the Disney movie kind.

"It’s not a kum-bah-ya race-relations, let’s-come-together relationship," Abt said.

The girls have a rocky relationship, but they also have an authentic and honest connection.

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In her press notes, Abt said that she has been intrigued by interracial relations between young women and uses the movie to explore the topic.

While there is less sports action than a movie such as "Bend It Like Beckham," Abt said that there is still plenty of action. In fact, that is one thing that Abt always like to inject into her films that sets her apart from many independent films.

"I’ve always been aware of that and want action in my work," she said.

She uses an actual prep lacrosse team from the area in the game scenes, and also uses its coaches as advisors to the film to ensure authenticity.

Abt chose the Washington, D.C., area for its history of difficult race relations. The film traverses the very segregated parts of the city as it underlines the girls’ diverse backgrounds and difficult relationship. The city is also a hotbed for the sport of lacrosse.

"Location is very important to my work," Abt said. "I thought lacrosse would root you in that world."

But the film is really about the girls’ relationship. Abt said the film will strike a chord with teenage girls and their parents as well as a wider audience as it delves deep into the topic of interracial relationships and other top topics that young American women are faced with.

"It touches on some tough issues," Abt said.

Sport-lovers may be drawn in by the action first, but it’s the story that should keep them in their seats.

"It will be very engaging to people not traditionally drawn to indie films," Abt said.

"Toe to Toe" Screenings:

Saturday, Jan. 17, 9:30 p.m. Redstone Cinemas, Kimball Junction

Sunday, Jan. 18, 2:15 p.m. Racquet Club, Park City

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 9:45 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

Wednesday, Jan., 21 5:30 p.m. Prospector Square Theatre, Park City

Friday, Jan. 23, 11:30 p.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City

But the sports action doesn’t stop there. Sundance is offering a long list of sports titles this year with everything from swimming triumphs in "Against the Current" and "Big River Man" to soccer-playing brothers in Mexico in the comedy "Rudo y Cursi" to a look at legendary sports figures in "Tyson" and "Thriller in Manila." There are enough titles to satisfy any sports lover.

"Against the Current"

Screenings:

Sun. Jan. 18, 8:30 p.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City

Wed. Jan. 21, 11:15 a.m. Racquet Club, Park City

Thu. Jan. 22, 2:15 p.m. Racquet Club, Park City

Sat. Jan. 24, 6:45 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

"Big fan" Screenings:

Sunday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m. Racquet Club, Park City

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 11:15 a.m. Racquet Club, Park City

9:00 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC

Thursday, Jan. 22, 3:15 p.m. Eccles Theatre, Park City

Friday, Jan. 23, 8:30 a.m. Racquet Club, Park City

"Big River Man" Screenings:

Friday, Jan. 16 3:15 p.m. – Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City

Saturday, Jan. 17 11:59 p.m. – Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City

Monday, Jan. 19 6 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC

Thursday, Jan. 22 5:30 p.m. – Prospector Square Theatre, Park City

"Rudo y Cursi" Screenings:

Saturday, Jan. 17, 8:30 a.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City

Sunday, Jan. 18, 3:30 p.m. Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden

Friday, Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC

"The Winning Season"

Screenings:

Monday, Jan. 19, 8:30 p.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 9:15 a.m. Eccles Theatre, Park City

Sunday, Jan. 25, 3:30 p.m. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC

"Thriller in Manila" Screenings:

Saturday, Jan. 17, 11:30 a.m. Prospector Square Theatre, Park City

Jan. 17, 9 p.m. Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 11:59 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City

"Tyson" Screenings:

Saturday, Jan. 17, 5:30 p.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City

Monday, Jan. 19, 2:30 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City

Saturday, Jan. 24, 6:15 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City