2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD

Sundance alumna Liz Garbus is appropriately featured in Documentary Premieres with her newest film, BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD, a comprehensive examination of the renowned chess champion.

Sundance Program Description:

Considered by many to be the world’s greatest chess player, Bobby Fischer personified the link between genius and madness. His trajectory propelled him from child prodigy to world chess champion at age 29 and then into a nosedive of delusions and paranoia. Fischer was a recluse for decades before resurfacing for a bizarre final chapter as a fugitive.

As a loner with no familial support, Fischer had to defend his title while representing his country against the mighty Russians during the cold war. The center of media attention, Fischer was never equipped for a life in the spotlight.

From veteran filmmaker Liz Garbus, and the final project of late editor Karen Schmeer, BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD exposes the disturbingly high price Fischer paid to achieve his legendary success and the resulting toll it took on his psyche. Rare archival footage and insightful interviews with those closest to him expand this captivating story of a mastermind’s tumultuous rise—and fall.

Some Background:
Garbus and her producing partner Rory Kennedy have brought their work to Sundance since the late 1990s – Garbus beginning with the 1998 Documentary Grand Jury Prize winner THE FARM: ANGOLA USA, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar; and Kennedy with 1999’s AMERICAN HOLLOW. Since then, they have collaborated on a number of projects through their Moxie Firecracker banner, including Sundance alums THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN (2002), GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB (2007), and SHOUTING FIRE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF FREE SPEECH (2009). In addition, Garbus served as Producer on Chico Colvard’s FAMILY AFFAIR (2010). Their fellow Producer, Stanley Buchthal was at Sundance last year as well with Tamra Davis’ JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD. Also, as noted above, BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD marks the final work from acclaimed Editor Karen Schmeer, who won the US Documentary Film Editing Award for SERGIO at the 2009 festival – Michael Levine, who edited past Sundance documentaries RESTREPO (2010), MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (2007), and RING OF FIRE (2005), also edited the film.

Why You Should Watch:
Fischer makes for a perfect documentary subject – he was in the public spotlight for such a long time, appearing on TV game shows as a 16-year-old chess champion and of course leading news broadcasts during his famous televised World Championship Cold War match against the Soviet Boris Spassky for over a month in 1972. The resultant wealth of archival material is used to impart to a present-day audience an immediate sense of the legend built up around the controversial figure, while also giving insight into the troubled man beneath. The lead-up to the Spassky match is especially riveting, as the whole world attempts to make sense of how a genius’ mind works – made more affecting by what happens to him in his later years.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film also has an official Facebook page to keep audiences updated on future screenings and other plans.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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