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Strand Recruits Docu Ballplayer: Pelotero

What do Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Dominican baseball players have in common? Strand Releasing of course. The distributor have made a  successful play for theatrical and VOD rights to the baseball documentary, Ballplayer: Pelotero. A theatrical release is planned for Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon Paley portrait somewhere during baseball season [07.13]. Narrated by  John Leguizamo, the doc first washed up at last year’s Hamptons Film Festival and has since been shown at other U.S indie fests.

Gist: Think of the doc as a prelude to Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Sugar, in the run-up to the most important day of their lives, two young Dominican baseball players confront competition and corruption to achieve their Big League dreams. For 16-year-old Dominican baseball players, the only real chance to escape crushing poverty comes every July 2nd, the day they become eligible to sign professional baseball contracts. Pelotero provides an intimate portrait of two prospects as they navigate the calculating, mercenary and often corrupt elements that surround Major League Baseball’s recruitment of the Island’s top talent.

Worth Noting: In the vein of Hoop Dreams, the filmmakers are currently working on a project that will continue to track the two ballplayers featured in “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” Miguel Angel Sano and Jean Carlos Batista, as they rise through the minor leagues.

Do We Care?: Moneyball gave us some insight into the little known aspects of the politics and business of pro baseball – this appears to follow the crumb trail to a whole other aspect of the scouting process. Variety gave a favorable mention in their review of the doc citing that “what gives “Pelotero” its edge is a nexus of corruption, exploitation and betrayal that transforms this well-shot, cannily edited item into an engrossing expose. Further play is assured, with limited theatrical definitely in the ballpark.”

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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