The Festival

The second annual Houston International Sports Film Festival will be Feb. 3-6, 2022!

We are looking for stories that go beyond the field and show the relationship between sports and life. HISFF founder, Josh Merwin, is proud to present this game changing festival.

Our mission is to provide emerging filmmakers with a platform to launch and make a positive impact in people’s lives through the power of film. We will launch with Josh Merwin’s film A Gift For Life to make a major impact for Organ Donor Awareness.

See our 2021 programming below!

2021 Films

In the 1920s the two brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler start manufacturing sport shoes. Adolf is a talented craftsman and his dream is that one day all the best sportsmen in the world will wear his shoes. Rudolf on the other hand is the economical brain of their business, handling sales and marketing. After World War II, they continue producing shoes but the relationship between the two brothers starts to deteriorate. Both of them claim the company to be theirs, leading to an ever growing rivalry. A rivalry still existing today, represented by two of the most popular sports brands.

Althea Gibson, a truant from the rough streets of Harlem, emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world of the 1950’s. Say the name Althea Gibson to most people and you’ll met a blank stare. However, no player overcame more obstacles to become a champion, the first African-American to play and win at Wimbledon and Forest Hills, a decade before the great Arthur Ashe, only to be shunned by the Tennis Establishment. He roots as a sharecropper’s daughter, her family’s migration north to Harlem, her mentoring from Sugar Ray Robinson, David Dinkins and others, her fame that thrust her unwillingly into the glare of the early Civil Rights movement, all bring the story into a much broader realm of African-American History.
“Atypical” tells how the 2019-20 season of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League took place under the planning of a new board of directors in an environment full of uncertainty.
“And now what?” is what many wonder about the future of the league, because the teams Tigres de Aragua and Navegantes del Magallanes are still sanctioned by OFAC and the Coronavirus pandemic has unleashed many more doubts.
The pitcher for the Outlaws is released earlier than anticipated. Upon being released the excitement he had earlier slowly fades as he realizes he’s missing the big game.
Blink of an Eye chronicles the star-crossed relationship between Michael Waltrip, the losingest driver in all of sports, and Dale Earnhardt, the most feared & iconic driver in NASCAR history.
This documentary directed by filmmakers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, gives the audience an exclusive insight into a global student 5v5 Soccer Tournament and the lives of five aspiring athletes from around the world. With behind-the-scenes access, the content brings viewers high-octane, exciting portraits of sacrifice and passion, exploring what it takes to be a champion – both on and off the pitch. The episodes feature the stories of five athletes: Yahya Sabbar (Italy), Rodrigo Alpizar (Mexico), Gisela Robledo Gil (Colombia), Daniel Zabala (Argentina), and Flavia Alonso De Carvalho (Brazil).
After losing the water polo Junior Olympics in an overtime shootout, the Harvard-Westlake Wolverines must prove that they can overcome their mistakes if they want another run at the championship. Cap Up is the never-before-told story of an elite high school water team’s journey for redemption, set in the toughest place to play water polo in America.
A sports mockumentary about the controversial life of notorious U.S. Ski Team superstar, Rex Chadwick. Through a series of interviews with Rex, family, friends, lovers, and other professional athletes, the story of a sports legend that “could have been” takes shape. From extreme highs, to devastating lows, how can the human spirit rise from the depths of tragedy?
Former number one tennis player of Cameroon, Joseph Oyebog, is transforming his home country through the sport of tennis. He teaches tennis lessons in Fairfield County during the summer months and then travels back to Cameroon for the second half of the year. He is building bridges between West Africa and Connecticut but is torn between raising his own children here in the U.S. and building his tennis empire back home.
19-year-old Emre, who dreams of coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in the Turkish Championship, is looking for support to facilitate the difficult life he has, because he has to work as a waiter. Emre wants to find a sponsor and leave his job to focus on boxing, but the conditions do not favor Emre. Emre has to work as a waiter and prepare for the Turkish championship at the same time.
The story of a woman athlete from Iran who is trying to get back in the fields from her accident. She faces deprivation because she does not agree to compete with hijab in international events and she must confronts its aftermath.

FOREMAN is the definitive feature documentary on legendary boxer and pitchman George Foreman. Framed around his improbable comeback, it begins with his journey from “the Bloody Fifth” in Houston, one of the most violent and dangerous neighborhoods in America, to Olympic gold and the heavyweight championship.
While playing baseball for the University of Texas, Carson Kainer’s struggle with kidney disease jeopardizes his lifelong dream of playing Major League Baseball. In need of a kidney transplant, Carson’s life is saved when his father, Ron, is a perfect match, stepping up to the plate as Carson’s organ donor. Armed with a healthy kidney, Carson is given a second chance at life and baseball as he plays for the Cincinnati Reds Organization. “A Gift For Life” is an inspiring film about an athlete’s will to succeed, the importance of family and keeping hope alive.
As told by over 20 Basketball Hall of Famers, this documentary profiles the 60-year friendship between two of the greatest basketball icons in history – Bill Sharman & Dennis Murphy, pioneering visionaries who collectively changed the game of pro basketball as we now know it. From the 3-point shot, to morning shoot-arounds, to the creation of many pro teams, and to allowing players to leave school early, these two historical figures not only changed the game of basketball but were critically responsible for helping to make the profession of pro basketball into the multi-billion dollar business it is today.
As the premier franchise in the Continental Basketball Association from 1982 to 1992, the Albany Patroons left an indelible mark on the city of Albany, the CBA and the NBA. From elite coaches like Phil Jackson, Bill Musselman and George Karl to standout players like Michael Ray Richardson, Mario Elie, Tony Campbell, Sidney Lowe, Rick Carlisle and Scott Brooks, the Patroons’ legacy continues to shape the world of professional basketball. We are working to bring you the untold story of the Patroons’ quick rise, championship success and ultimate downfall. Beyond the franchise’s ups and downs, the stories of the individuals involved, from fans, to executives to coaches and players are implausible, hilarious and inspiring.
On December 4 th, 2019, the professional Wheelchair tennis player Gustavo Fernández being number 1 in ranking, resigned his nomination for the Olimpia awards. His commitment leads us to reflect on the differences with which the sport performed by people with disabilities is measured.
Fresh off a devastating defeat, a professional athlete close to retirement puts it all on the line
to compete with the best extreme sports athletes in the world.
Nonstop Flight: The Untold Story of FC Cincinnati” is a documentary about how an idea to start a professional sports franchise turned into reality in a very short period of time. The club was built from the ground up, set numerous minor-league soccer records in 3 short years before its selection into Major League Soccer in record-time. This documentary recalls the biggest moments in FC Cincinnati’s five-year history and how it accomplished so much with so little.
72 Days, 39 Riders, One World: A Film by Burton. Whether you’ve been here all along or you’re dropping in for the first time, the bond of snowboarding spans the globe and connects us all. Danny Davis, Anna Gasser, Mark McMorris & more.
Outraged is a UEFA original documentary exploring different types of discrimination in football (soccer). It centres around the topic of exclusion based on ethnicity, gender, refugee background and sexual orientation. Through the personal experience of the biggest names in football, the state of discrimination in the game is examined.
When faced with tremendous obstacles, Sir Philip Craven holds true to his principles. This film explores how the former president of the International Paralympic Committee used these principles as a compass to guide the world’s largest adaptive sports organization to become a global leader for social change.
RAYMOND LEWIS: L.A. LEGEND tells the true story of the mythical basketball legend from Watts California who was blackballed from the NBA in the early 70’s following an ugly contract dispute with the Philadelphia 76ers as a rookie. The film features exclusively uncovered archival footage dating back over 50 years, along with a deep array of over 45 personal interviews that tell the incredibly strange and heartbreaking tale of a once-in-a-generation talent who was shunned by a game he was destined to dominate. Part historical recovery, part deep personal excavation, the film takes the viewer on a moving ride through one of the sport’s least known, but perhaps most incredible personal journeys of all time. Steeped in the unique history and imagery of South Central Los Angeles and the tumultuous civil rights movements of the late 60’s and early 70’s, L.A. LEGEND offers a unique reflection of the racial justice movements happening today in both sports and U.S. society. Featuring interviews with Dr. Harry Edwards, Jerry Tarkanian, Reggie Theus, Sonny Vacarro, Lorenzo Romar, Michael Cooper, Gene Shue, Pat Williams.
‘Sleeping Warrior’ is a feature documentary about the first female African Lacrosse team. We follow these young women from their homes in Kenya to the World Championships in Canada and see how an unimaginable opportunity transforms their humble lives. From getting their first passports, to discovering how their friends and families react , we learn how the power of sport changes these young women. There is heartbreak, joy and always strength of spirit.
During the course of filming, one player discovered that her deceased mother might be alive after all, so we follow her dramatic journey to find her real family. The title comes from a mountain the girls train under in Kenya called ‘Sleeping Warrior’ and these young women are so strong, yet have been oppressed their whole lives, they are truly warriors.
A filmed account of the Zaire 74 soul music festival, originally intended to be in concert with the famous Rumble in the Jungle bout in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974.
A family in rural Minnesota transforms their expansive front yard into a magnificent ballpark for a game they created based on traditional American baseball. This is the story of how the game evolved and an exploration of the extraordinary moments and culture it has created.
What would the world be like if sports were different? Tapeball has the answer.
22-year-old wheelchair fencer, Victoria “Tori” Isaacson, is on a multi-year journey to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics; but time is not on her side. Her greatest opponents: a degenerative disease, mounting debt, crushing self-doubt and an unexpected global pandemic. Will her years of athletic discipline arm her as she battles, alongside her coaches and family, to reshape her future?
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, “The Rumble in the Jungle,” between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.
A play on the famous Notorious BIG line that explores the relationship between rappers, hoopers and the streets…
A narrative of the life, feelings and dreams of the fans of the Borussia Dortmund football team in Germany, thousands of kilometres away from their homeland
They have found each other and watch the games together. They laugh at the victory of their favourite team and shed tears when they lose.
They have given new meaning to their lives with their love for Dortmund and their yellow-shirted players.
A pure, innocent and of course one-sided love.

About Josh

Our founder, Josh Merwin, has a background in sports photography and filmmaking. While looking for an interesting and impactful story about an athlete, he found the story of Carson Kainer, a University of Texas baseball player who needed a kidney transplant to save his life and allow him to chase his dream of playing professional baseball.

Josh documented Carson and his family’s life for over 6 years and then again once Carson’s son started playing baseball. Hoping to make a major impact for organ donor awareness, he needed a platform to generate awareness for the film and the importance of organ donation. Josh realized one major issue, there was not a major sports film festival in the US. Josh began to formulate a plan, knowing there were more filmmakers like himself that needed a festival platform to launch their projects. Josh is a Houston native and once he decided to start a sports film festival, he knew that Houston would be the perfect place to host. In addition to supporting organ donation, HISFF will also have a track of programming that will highlight the importance of racial equality. We will use film as an educational tool to help carry on the conversation as we lead up to the festival in 2021.

Josh wants the festival to open opportunities for other filmmakers and show films that make an impact on the audience and the world! With your help and support, we can make this dream come true for generations of filmmakers.

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Need to connect with us?

Festival Founder:

Josh Merwin – josh@hisff.org

Festival PR Contact:

Bianca Bucaram – bianca@bucaramprg.com | bucaramprg.com