ESPN Films continues to experience success with their critically-acclaimed documentaries, this time with “Hillsborough” garnering a Primetime Emmy nomination for “Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.”
The film, which originally aired in April as part of the 30 for 30: Soccer Stories documentary series, is a comprehensive account of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster, Britain’s worst sporting disaster in which 96 men, women and children were killed and hundreds injured.
Beginning with that fateful day in 1989, the film details the horror of the tragedy, told through the eyes of those who witnessed it, be they fans, survivors, family members or policemen – many speaking publicly for the first time.
Front Row sat down with ESPN Films producer Deirdre Fenton, who was the project manager for “Hillsborough,” after the nominations were announced.
Given that the film subject is so hard-hitting, what do you think fans enjoyed most about the doc?
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the police and media disseminated so much misleading information about what happened. I hope viewers were finally able to see the truth and understand the events as they actually transpired. Now there can finally be ‘Justice for the 96’ and their families.
How did the current inquest affect the film process?
The victims and their families have been fighting for 25 years for a fair trial. In that time, they have grown wary of people who want to tell their story. Daniel Gordon, the director, did a phenomenal job of gaining their trust and giving them a platform to help tell the true story of that day.
What does this nomination mean for ESPN Films?
It is great for ESPN Films to be recognized among the best documentaries of the year, not just sports documentaries. We strive to be part of the larger conversation and it is extremely gratifying to have broken through with this incredible peer group.
“Hillsborough” was produced in association with Passion Pictures. John Battsek, the head of Passion Pictures and an executive producer on the film, adds: “It is extremely gratifying to be nominated for such a prestigious award. I am particularly thrilled for [director] Dan Gordon, with whom I have been making films for well over a decade, and that it is a filmabout a story so close to both of our hearts which has received this exciting nomination.”