Al Jazeera America Presents "Sporting Dreams" from iconic American filmmaker Leon Gast

SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2015 at 10PM ET

Is it worth it? Three unique stories look at the work and sacrifice that goes into pursuing athletic dreams in America.

New York, NY, August 26, 2015 – Through the intimate stories of three American families, the documentary Sporting Dreams grasps that high school sports are still deemed a vital bridge to attaining the American Dream – for the child as well as their families. But is it worth it?

Sporting Dreams, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Leon Gast and produced by Adam Schlesinger and Linda Saffire, will premiere on Al Jazeera America Presents this Sunday night, August 30th at 10pm ET.  Within a broader examination of whether the American Dream still exists, Sporting Dreams shows both the positives and negatives of youth sports in the United States and reveals how sports play a part in the American dream.

Sports continue to play an enormous role in the American social fabric, with more children than ever participating in competitive sports. Sports have the power to connect family and community and teach youth important lessons of discipline, hard work, dedication, failure and achievement – and how to have fun – yet the hopes and dreams of a professional career or even a college scholarship can only rarely be achieved, with a lot of sacrifice along the way.

Sporting Dreams looks at three individual and team sports in America: boxing, hockey and girls AAU basketball. Through interweaving stories told through experiences with sports, the film examines family relationships and evaluates the joy and struggle in achieving the American dream.

The film will also re-air on Saturday, September 5th at 10pm ET.

About the Filmmakers

LEON GAST is an American documentary film director, producer, cinematographer, and editor. His documentary When We Were Kings depicting the iconic heavyweight boxing match termed “The Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman won the 1996 Academy Award for Documentary Feature and the Independent Spirit Award. Gast also co-directed the 1977 documentary The Grateful Dead Movie with guitarist Jerry Garcia. The film captured the band's October 1974 five-night performance at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Gast's most recently completed project is a documentary entitled Smash His Camera, a film about paparazzi photographer Ron Galella. The film won "Best Director" of a documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Based in New York City, ADAM SCHLESINGER is an Emmy nominated independent film producer of award winning films, including Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a documentary on the Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei which premiered in the documentary competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it won a special Jury Prize. Schlesinger also produced the documentary Smash His Camera, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and winning the Best Director Award. The film also aired on HBO in the U.S. and around the world. Schlesinger also was a producer of Page One: Inside the New York Times which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He is currently directing and producing a documentary on the world renowned American ballerina Wendy Whelan.

LINDA SAFFIRE, a producer and director of non-fiction films, has worked on numerous award-winning film and television productions. Among her feature documentary and film credits are A Conversation with Gregory Peck, a collaboration with Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck, which was invited as a special selection to the Cannes 2000 Film Festival; Wild Man Blues a feature length film on Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band, which was selected by the National Board of Review and the Broadcasts Critic’s Association as Best Documentary of 1998; My Generation, a non-fiction feature film that examines the Woodstock legacy; Married In America, a film by British director Michael Apted and Smash His Camera, a collaboration with Adam Schlesinger and Academy Award winning director, Leon Gast, (When We Were Kings). Currently, Ms. Saffire is co-directing and co-producing with Adam Schlesinger a feature length documentary on New York City Ballet’s principal ballerina, Wendy Whelan, described by The New York Times as “America’s greatest contemporary ballerina.”

ANNE BARLIANT’s film career began in 2005 when she edited two documentary shorts with the photographer Danny Lyon, Five Days and Murderers. In 2007 she joined the award-winning team at Ironbound Films and edited two Emmy nominated films for PBS The Linguists (Sundance, 2008) and The New Recruits. She co-edited Madeleine Sackler's film Dangerous Acts: Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013 and aired on HBO in July 2014. She has been an editor on several television projects including ESPN’s 30 for 30: Fernando Nation, Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Robert Redford’s CNN series Chicagoland. Directed by Marc Levin, Chicagoland and was nominated for an IDA limited series award. Barliant also collaborated with Natalie Merchant for an online series on Leave Your Sleep, a multidisciplinary project that introduces children to poetry through music.

About Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America is the U.S. news channel that provides both domestic and international news for American audiences. Headquartered in New York City with bureaus in 12 cities across the United States, Al Jazeera America carries an award-winning mix of live news, special programming, documentaries and more. Al Jazeera America is available in more than 64 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Channel 347, Dish Network Channel 216, Verizon FiOS Channel 614 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 1219.  To find Al Jazeera America in your area, visit Visit Al Jazeera America online at for the latest updates. Like us on Facebook and follow @AJAM, @AJAMCorp on Twitter for the latest news and updates. Join the conversation using #AJAM.

For more information, contact:

Brooke Flohr


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