Panama, the home of the greatest closer of all time. Yankee’s Mariano Rivera, and the first country in the region to play baseball, is the subject of a ground breaking sports documentary by a New York filmmaker.
US filmmaker Eric Soussan lamented that Panama, which pioneered baseball now lags behind other Latin- American countries in its exports of players to the major leagues. When he obtained a Fullbright Grant he set out from New York to Panama, to find out why.
What he has produced sounds like a natural for next year’s International Film Festival. Remember you read it here first.
Soussann explores the rich history of a nation that has spent nearly 160 years playing baseball, and uncovers the decline that took Panama from a baseball powerhouse to a has-been on the world stage in his feature-length documentary Indestructible: Baseball On The Isthmus.
Soussanin was awarded a Fulbright grant in 2009, and spent a year living in Panama researching the history of the sport. What began as strictly an historical documentary quickly lead to some startling discoveries: a nation's baseball in crisis; under-funded little leagues; and baseball being used as a political tool in Panama.
"I knew immediately that I had found a story that I wanted to tell," says Soussanin. "I began making personal connections with those in the Panamanian baseball community, including several former Major Leaguers who had come back to their homeland.
" Suddenly the picture became clearer: the game of baseball was at a critical point in its existence and in danger of total collapse. Consequently, a grassroots "baseball revolution" was underway in Panama, led by two former major leaguers, Omar Moreno and Olmedo Saenz. The goal of this revolution was simple: to see Panamanian baseball once again rise.
"I consider myself a pretty die-hard baseball fan, and even I was surprised at what I found. I knew baseball fans around the world would want to see how these players were working to rescue the game in their country."
The film includes interviews with renowned current and former major league baseball players like Omar Moreno, Olmedo Saenz, Hector Lopez, Bruce Chen, Candy Maldonado and Elias Sosa, as well as scouts, coaches, sportscasters and instructors in both Panama and the US.
For the sake of baseball fans in Panama, let’s hope film guru Henk Van Der Kolk can snag this one for the 2013 International Film Festival.
Meanwhile, working with producer David Mandel (Drift, Pasadena), the filmmakers are launching a 30 day Kickstarter campaign to help raise funding to finish the film. Mandel says, "Kickstarter has become a great launch-pad for independent films like ours. We have a strong audience of baseball fans round the world who are eager to support us through these final stages of post-production, and who want to see the finished film."
So if you love the game and want to help get the film on the big screen, and move Panama baseball back to the big time check out these sites-
Kickstarter Link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1830761342/indestructible-baseball-on-the-isthmus
Film Website: http://www.panamabaseballmovie.com