Another future 30 for 30 documentary with great promise will focus on Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan 20 years after the 1994 Winter Olympics. ESPN Films has long chased filmmaker Nanette Burstein to be part of its series and she’s heading up the project. The working title of the film (which is likely to be changed) is The Whack Heard Round The World and the target date for air is November.
In an interview with SI.com last week, Burstein said the film will focus heavily on the six weeks in 1994 when it seemed the entire sporting world was focused on the two American skaters. The film will also examine how the events impacted the sport of figure skating and the sporting culture at large. “This story raises a lot of issues,” Burstein said. “It raises the issue of class, it raises the issue of feminine sports, and it raises the issue of media because this story came at the beginning of tabloid stories taking over as major news and occupying the public for weeks on end.”
Burstein said she has already interviewed Harding for the film — she recently spent an entire day with the former skater. “She has such captivating and strong personality and is very outspoken and emotional about these issues and how it hugely affected her life,” Burstein said. “She wanted her story told but she also wanted this to be the last time she did it. She did not want to keep rehashing the story for years to come.”
As for Kerrigan, Burstein said she is optimistic she will sit down with her for an interview. “She has a very admirable story to be told,” Burstein said. “What she was able to overcome and how she rose to the occasion was nothing short of very admirable. Most people would have quit or never been able to perform on an Olympic level. Her side of the story would add so much.”
If the filmmakers cannot get Kerrigan on film, the documentary will proceed. Burstein said there are people who were around Kerrigan at the time who can provide information. Obviously, documentaries are about access and Kerrigan’s voice is clearly an important one. Kerrigan does know Harding is participating in the film.
Landing Burstein is a coup for Schell. In 2002 she co-directed the sensational documentary, “The Kid Stays In The Picture,” which focused on the life of legendary film producer Robert Evans. Her first documentary, “On the Ropes,” followed three young Brooklyn boxers and their trainer. The doc was nominated for an Oscar in 1999.