Description from TIFF 2009 catalog by Thom Powers:
Peter Berg has a flare for finding the human drama in sports, as he proved co-directing the film Friday Night Lights and creating the popular television series that followed. He’s further demonstrated himself a hitmaker as the director of The Kingdom and Hancock. In this Mavericks session, Berg presents the world premiere of Kings Ransom, produced for ESPN’s 30 for 30 project (see previous page). The hour-long documentary explores how Wayne Gretzky’s move from Canada to Los Angeles changed the game of hockey. For fans, it’s a must-see. But even those oblivious to the sport can connect to the universal themes and will be dazzled by the archival clips of Gretzky’s mastery on ice. Afterwards, Berg will sit down for an extended discussion of the film and his friendship with Gretzky.
To hockey fans, Gretzky is known simply as “The Great One.” He is to hockey what Tiger Woods is to golf or Michael Jordan is to basketball &”8211; an exemplar of peak performance. As a native of Brantford, Ontario, he is cherished by Canadians as a national treasure. In the eighties, he helped lift the Edmonton Oilers from the bottom of the NHL to the top, winning four Stanley Cup championships. Then in 1988, he made a decision &”8211; changing teams to play for the Los Angeles Kings &”8211; that caused shockwaves. For Canadians, the loss was unthinkable. For the NHL, it was momentous to have such a star player in a major market. (The league has since expanded from twenty-one teams to thirty.) But Gretzky never won another Stanley Cup.
Berg uses his friendship with Gretzky to draw out the player’s memories. The film evokes the depths of Canadian pride in interviews with key Oilers figures from Gretzky’s era, including former owner Peter Pocklington, former coach Glen Sather and radio announcer Rod Phillips. The resulting work tells a powerful story of family, money, national pride, and opportunities lost and gained.
About the director:
Peter Berg is a New York-born actor, producer, writer and director. Berg co-directed the film Friday Night Lights (04) and subsequently created the popular television show. His films include The Rundown (03), The Kingdom (07) and Hancock (08). Kings Ransom (09) is his first documentary.