Running Length: 1 hr 20 mins
Sony 4K Theatrical Presentation
IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS is a groundbreaking feature documentary revealing the true nature and nurture of the greatest athletes of all time. Through a series of intimate conversations and captivating footage, Director Gabe Polsky leads viewers on an entertaining, thrilling, and inspiring personal journey. The film explores everything from upbringing, coaching, and genetics to creativity, psychology, and philosophy. Featuring original interviews with iconic athletes Wayne Gretzky, Pelé, and Jerry Rice, as well as renowned thought leaders Sir Ken Robinson and David Epstein, IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS resonates beyond the world of sport to realms of self-expression, attitude, and human nature.
“Rarely have I encountered a sports movie as smart or thrilling as this one — it makes one look at the world of sports, and beyond, in an entirely different way.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Great characters and filmed beautifully. It’s Gladwellian polemical side–soulful and persuasive– is adulterated well with trademark oddness–the lingering-a-little-too-long shots, the B-roll, and the clincher, the Walter Gretzky singing “Que Sera.” Perfect pitch!” – The New Yorker
“Wayne Gretzky. Jerry Rice. Pele. In Search of Greatness gives us unprecedented access to – and understanding of – the true source of their athletic genius. A must see for athletes, parents, coaches, and just about anyone interested in the upper limit of human achievement.” – Sports Illustrated
IN SEARCH OF GREATNESS is a deeply personal film, exploring ideas I’ve meditated on my entire life. Specifically, the enigmatic nature of greatness and how it can be cultivated and ultimately defined.
The scope of the film resonates beyond the world of sport to realms of self-expression, psychology philosophy, and human nature. Through my career in both sports and the arts, I’ve come to witness fundamental flaws in mainstream paths to success. Our society encourages formulaic approaches to chasing dreams. We’re reduced to numbers and resumes, and inadvertently “live to retire” as Alan Watts suggests before the credits roll.
These icons’ trajectories prove that mastery cannot be manufactured. That the systems meant to cultivate us often stifle us instead, discouraging qualities that typically define those who leave a mark on the world: imagination, instinct and individuality. In a culture at risk of losing its soul to systems of all varieties, these ideas seem more vital than ever. How can a society so obsessed with success fail to understand its essence? Too many coaches, teachers and CEOs misunderstand what makes a person thrive. They can’t see when the next Mozart stands before them .
In 2014, when I premiered my film Red Army at the Toronto International Film Festival, Wayne Gretzky happened to be in the audience. His unique style, vision, and artistry made him my childhood hero and I couldn’t possibly have anticipated he’d lead my next and most personal film to date. To me Gretzky was a perfect example of how somebody with unorthodox style and counterintuitive ability would use his personal creativity to dominate and change the game. I was eager to explore sport—a mainstream field—from a philosophical, unorthodox vantage point to look deeply at a commercial enterprise . I’m thrilled that Gretzky and the other sporting icons in this piece felt moved to help me navigate this territory. – Gabe Polsky