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Free Flick Fridays:<br>Out of the Blue

College football season is finally here! If this is music to your ears, we've got a doc for you. Out of the Blue tells the story of the 2006 Boise State Broncos, whose Fiesta Bowl showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners capped a Cinderella season.

Out of the Blue:
A Film About Life and Football

Director: Michael Hoffman

We know it's called Free Flick Fridays, so we're a day early, but the 2009 college football season starts today, and we wanted to paint our faces.

We’ve got a soft spot for football movies. And Cinderella stories about underdogs triumphing. Yes, those two usually go together (We are Marshall, Remember the Titans, Rudy, etc.), and today's rec is no exception. It is, though, a bit of a novelty in that Out of the Blue is a documentary—this story doesn’t need the poetic license a narrative film can offer. Instead, director Michael Hoffman introduces us to the actual young men—and their coaches—who made the impossible possible on an unlikely blue field.

The 2006 Boise State Broncos football team had a lot of potential, but no one dreamed they would turn that potential into a reality with such fervor, determination, and heart. With a newly-minted head coach (Dan Hawkins had just been wooed away by Colorado and the Big 12) and a team that was small by any measure, the Broncos were not ranked in any preseason polls. But after three big wins, they cracked the top 25 and went on a roll that eventually led them to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contention.

As their Cinderella season unfolds in the film, we meet the players—well-spoken, poised, and thoughtful young men who have both a steadfast work ethic and a strong team mentality. Under the leadership of the star running back who crochets (and is engaged to the head cheerleader) and the quarterback who was raised on an Oregon farm (and plays through the chicken pox during a crucial game), all the players give the team their all. (They also give their all in the classroom, a refreshing statement given the lack of focus on academics in so many programs.)

New coach Chris Petersen—promoted from offensive coordinator when Hawkins left—has the strong-jawed good looks of an onscreen coach, with a backstory to match: his son was diagnosed with brain cancer at a young age, so Petersen understands pressure. He also puts his money where his mouth is regarding the team’s standards of character: when an upperclassman is seen out after curfew the night before the bowl game, the boy—heartbreakingly—is on the next flight home. (It’s a testament to Petersen that the player not only understands, but thinks it was the right decision.)

Speaking of the bowl game, we don’t want to give too much away, but if you are a college football fan, you already know what comes next. The Fiesta Bowl played on January 1, 2007, was arguably the best college football game of all time. The Goliath that is the Oklahoma Sooners faced off against the David of Boise State, and the rest was history. The upset added fuel to the fire that still surrounds the controversial BCS and the lack of a real playoff system for college football.

Hoffman is an eclectic filmmaker. From the wacky hilarity of Soapdish to the period piece Restoration to the gritty Game 6 (about a different sport), he is hard to characterize. According to IMDB, Hoffman was a former student body president at Boise State, so he had an obvious connection to this story. What he has done here is craft a taut, intimate portrait of a team and its perfect storm of momentum, complete with the right balance of tension and glory. We think you'll cheer.

Watch the entire film for free
on the Tribeca Channel on YouTube
(and subscribe today).

Watch the trailer:  



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