Ballhawks, the riveting new feature length documentary shot and directed by Mike Diedrich and edited by my dear husband, Randy Palmer, has its North American premiere at the Athens Film Festival this week.
The Chicago premiere will take place Memorial Day weekend at the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown. Mike and Randy and several of the Ballhawks will be at the 8:00 Friday night screening. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster or at the Siskel Center box office. You can become a fan of Ballhawks on Facebook, where you'll find more info and some pretty funny outtakes. The trailer is here. (A tip: turn the HD off if the video is slow.)
Here is the description of the film from the Siskel Center site: "You've got to be crazy to be a Cubs fan, and a little bit crazier to be a Ballhawk--one of the glove-wearing true believers who faithfully patrol the streets just beyond Wrigley Field's hallowed ivy-covered walls in the hope of catching an out-of-the-park clout, preferably on the fly. Mike Diedrich's documentary takes an affectionate, amusing, and at times poignant look at this only-in-Chicago obsession and the singular personalities who pursue it: undisputed king Moe Mullins (with over 4,000 lifetime catches), exuberant "rookie" George Field, controversial maverick Super Dave Davison, and many more. The film's specialized subject-matter provides a unique, oblique angle that illuminates sports fandom, the special agonies and ecstasies of Cub fandom, and larger issues that verge on the (gulp) downright philosophical. As one of the Ballhawks says, 'It's all about time...holding onto time.'"
Which hints at the humor, heart and depth of this film. "What will you do with the rest of your life?" asks narrator and Cubs uberfan Bill Murray in the film's opening moments. It's a question worth asking and Ballhawks, like the similarly great documentary, Gates of Heaven, makes us reconsider and, almost to our surprise, understand one of the most unusual of answers.
Ballhawks, 74 minutes, directed by Mike Diedrich, narrated by Bill Murray. Randy Palmer, editor.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State Street, Chicago. (312) 846-2800.
Screenings Friday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 29, 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, May 30, 5:30 p.m.