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Kat Jayme has slammed another dunk.
The Vancouver filmmaker’s name will flash across American TV screens next week in one of the most high-profile ways possible: her film Finding Big Country is going to play on ESPN.
The American sports channel, which dubs itself the worldwide leader in sports, has licensed her film for the next five months. The first telecast will be, fittingly, on Canada Day.
Normally ESPN only airs its own original documentaries, but in the time of COVID-19, with no sports running and lots of air time to fill, the network has started to make some exceptions to the in-house-only rule.
Jayme now counts herself one of the fortunate few.
“This is a long time in the making,” she said on Friday, shortly after ESPN announced Finding Big Country as part of a special lineup of four films that will air next week. Also featured are Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams, about Japanese high school baseball; Eddie, about famed basketball coach Eddie Sutton; and Born to Play, about a women’s tackle football team.
Jayme’s film was funded by Telus Storyhive and was first screened in 2018. The film won a pair of awards at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It has since been screened in a variety of places and last week aired on Sportsnet across Canada.
She said her mentor, noted sports documentarian Jonathan Hock, helped connect her with ESPN’s programming department. She first met Hock after she graduated from film school in 2011.
“They’ve been following the project for a very long time,” she said of the folks at ESPN. “They couldn’t acquire it even though they loved it, because of their policy to only show original programming. But because of COVID, ESPN programming have made an exception to licence it. It’s a very rare situation.”
“This is one of the ultimate dreams for me. ESPN is every filmmaker’s dream if you’re into sport. They put out some of the best stories, not just sport stories.”
She said it would be a dream to direct one of ESPN’s famous 30 for 30 films. For now, she’s enjoying the fact more people than ever will see her tale of tracking down her favourite Vancouver Grizzlies player.
“It’s a huge win for Canadian sport, for Canadian basketball,” she said.
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