It's official: you can put together a film festival about anything nowadays. The latest contender for your cinematic attention - in a week already crammed with NXNE, Luminato, the Toronto Japanese Film Festival and Toronto Russian Film Festival - is the Canadian Sports Film Festival.
The modest program leans toward shorts and documentaries. The only dramatic feature is tonight's fest opener, Africa United, in which three Rwandan urchins (Eriya Ndayambaje, Roger Nsengiyumva and Sanyu Joantia Kintu) travel to Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup. It's paired with Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul, a documentary short about the burgeoning skate-punk culture in Afghanistan.
Friday night's first program includes a pair of standout docs: Baseball In The Time Of Cholera, which follows efforts to sustain the momentum of Haiti's first Little League baseball team through the cholera outbreak, and The Game Must Go On, about a bunch of Greek kids who lobby their city for a soccer field (in 2010, before the bottom fell out of that country's economy).
The festival closes with Men Who Swim, Dylan Williams's charming film about his time with synchro team Stockholm Art Swim Gents. Previously screened in Toronto as a Doc Soup entry in December 2010, it paints an intimate portrait of the shifts in priorities and values that come with early middle age, without condescending to Williams's teammates or their sport of choice. And the climax - SASG take on imposing Czech and German rivals in Milan - is genuinely absorbing.
A children's workshop built around animated short The Swimming Lesson happens Saturday morning just up the street at the NFB Mediatheque.