Podtalk: Filmmaker Gabe Polsky is ‘In Search of Greatness’

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CHICAGO – What is “greatness”? Is it an undefinable element in human beings that no one can explain, or can we get insight if we listen to those who have achieved it? Documentary filmmaker Gabe Polsky (“Red Army”) went on a journey to understand the concept in his new film, “In Search of Greatness.”

The focus is on athletes, in the sense of how one stands out from another, given the same parameters available to physically gifted people. Polsky explores the “it” factor, from pro hockey (Wayne Gretzky), pro football (Jerry Rice) and international soccer (Pelé). The filmmaker delves deeply, with commentary by social scientists and creativity experts. It turns out that the quality of greatness is part mystery, part happenstance and part being in the right place/time at any given moment, along with a unique passion for getting it done. This is a fascinating documentary, sprinkled with a bit of magic.

Wayne “The Great” Gretzky Talks About Where to Go ‘In Search of Greatness’
Photo credit: AOS (Art of Sports)

Gabe Polsky was born to first generation Russian immigrants to the U.S., and grew up in Chicagoland. He played hockey at Yale University, and the subject of his first documentary, “Red Army” (2015), was the Russian national hockey team and their pursuit of greatness. The film won multiple awards, and was selected as the Opening Night film of the 2014 Moscow International Film Festival. He is a producer of note, including the recent National Geographic miniseries on Albert Einstein, “Genius,” and co-directed a narrative film, “The Motel Life” (2012).

In a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, Gabe Polsky reflects on the nature of greatness in the context of his film, and the differences between documentary and narrative filmmaking.

“In Search of Greatness” opens in Chicago on November 2nd, part of a nationwide release. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring interviews with Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice and Pelé. Written and directed by Gabe Polsky. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2018 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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