Category Archives: FSM Movies

Filmmaker Turns Loss into Award-Winning Documentary

This post is intended as a happy follow-up to FSM’s first look into this documentary. We had a feeling some awards would be forthcoming!

(NewsUSA) – The award-winning documentary, Adapting to Dive, follows filmmaker David Marsh on a transformational journey. Marsh lost his son to an opioid overdose on Thanksgiving, one week before he joined the non-profit group, Diveheart, on an adaptive scuba diving trip to Cozumel, Mexico.     

The moving and inspirational film premiered on May 18, 2022, in Diveheart’s hometown of Downers Grove, Illinois, and it has earned laurels from the Orlando International Film Festival and the Cine Paris film festival, and has been named an official selection for the Marina Del Ray film festival and the 2022 Impact DOCS awards.     

Marsh did not share his son’s death with the Diveheart group until the filming was completed, and only after being asked by his new Diveheart friends for his overall impressions of the trip.

Marsh explains in the film, “After going through this entire process of creating a film, releasing it to the world, and seeing the response, what I’ve learned is that we are all adapting to something in life. Diveheart and the adaptive divers showed me that we have to learn to go through these challenging things,” he says.     

“It is important to remain positive no matter what happens, because it doesn’t matter what happens, it only matters what you do with what happens that makes the difference in your life,” he emphasizes. “Share your story, because we are all moved by hearing another person’s perspective. Each one of us is a unique, individual reflection of creation itself, so honor and appreciate your uniqueness. Give grace to others with patience, because, like you, they are also having to adapt to something in life,” he adds.

“When David and his brother Scott were not filming and interviewing participants, they were always busy helping others. We had no idea what David was dealing with mentally and emotionally after the sudden loss of his son,” says Diveheart founder and president Jim Elliott.     

“The story that David has articulated through this film is nothing short of amazing,” says Tinamarie Hernandez, Diveheart’s executive director. “Throughout the film you see the transformation that David experienced — a transformation that no one realized was unfolding each day,” she adds.     

Adapting to Dive is especially powerful in light of the ongoing opioid crisis that affects so many families, and the film’s inspiring messages of empathy, hope and healing. Viewers will experience the genuine themes of trust, adapting, challenge, loss and love.     

Founded in 2001, Diveheart serves youth, veterans and others with physical and cognitive disabilities, and trains instructors and divers of all abilities in adaptive scuba. Adapting to Dive can be found on Amazon and other streaming services and select film festivals around the world.     

Visit for more details.


FSM Scouting Report: 30 For 30 Shark

Book/Movie Title: 30 For 30: Shark

Total Pages/Duration: 76 minutes

Author/Director: Jason Hehir & Thomas Odelfelt

Pace of Play: Watching this documentary is similar to playing 18 holes of golf. Kind of dull for the most part but you do get some great moments of interest and excitement mixed in. While this doc clocks in just under 80 minutes, it feels like you’ve been watching for 2 hours by the time the credits roll.

Strengths: The strength of this documentary lies in the accessibility of Greg Norman. He takes on all questions about “choking” and even takes a literal walk through the Master’s course at Augusta, home of his 1996 heartbreak. He’s honest but also seems like he’s in denial. An honest denial? While the viewer gets a condensed back story and buildup, this documentary is really all about that 1996 choke job.

Weaknesses: Maybe we were spoiled by The Last Dance because there was no true drama in this doc. At times, things got boring. Norman’s low volume monotone voice didn’t help matters.

Unique Attributes: One the director’s is the same person who directed The Last Dance. There are some noticeable similarities in styles of each film.

The loveable Jack Nicklaus makes appearances throughout this documentary with some great insights. Always classy never sassy. Scott Van Pelt (SVP) also pops up often.

A montage of Norman driving Ferraris and riding on to golf courses on helicopters was perfectly set to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man. Some would say it’s the highlight of the entire film.  

Scout’s Recommendations: Subscribers of ESPN+ have access to this film and should definitely consider giving it a stream. It’s not really a film just for golf fans – most people will be able to relate to that moment of truth in their own life. Did they pull through under pressure or did they just pull a Shark?

Find out more about 30 For 30: Shark by clicking here.

Diveheart Adaptive Scuba Diving Trip Transforms Filmmaker’s Life

(NewsUSA) – Scuba diving can be an exotic and enriching activity for anyone, but for individuals with a range of physical or cognitive disabilities, the unique weightlessness of the underwater environment allows them to exercise, relax, have fun and gain confidence like no other experience. Children and adults with challenges, including traumatic brain injuries, amputation, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and blindness can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of scuba diving.

Diveheart, a Downers Grove, Ill.,-based nonprofit tax-exempt organization, has been helping youth, veterans and others with disabilities through adaptive scuba and scuba therapy since 2001.Last year, Los Angeles filmmaker David Marsh accompanied a Diveheart team on a scuba trip to Cozumel, Mexico, to make a documentary about the organization and its mission. For Marsh, the experience was life-changing, as he completed the trip and his filming despite the tragic personal loss of his son to a drug overdose just one week earlier.On the last day of the trip, Marsh shared his loss with the Diveheart team.

“David Marsh is amazing and awesome. Despite his loss and grief, he soldiered on and captured the spirit, love and hope that emerges from every Diveheart trip,” says Diveheart’s founder and president, Jim Elliott.”He captured the essence of our mission and shared the real-life experience of what Diveheart does to help those with disabilities experience freedom underwater.”

In the documentary, every day embraces a theme; day one is trust, day two is freedom and day three is adapting. Audiences will see how Marsh translated the feelings of the adaptive divers, who shared their losses, struggles, fears and hopes.

“We are so grateful to David for capturing Diveheart in action,” Elliott emphasizes. “My hope for this documentary is to raise awareness to Diveheart’s mission: to revolutionize rehabilitation by using zero gravity underwater to help those with everything from mobility issues to chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. We help our participants find that self-confidence, personal strength and independence, and we will continue to do so in the years to come.

The documentary, “Adapting To Dive,” premieres at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave. in Downers Grove, Ill. To see a trailer of the documentary, click here. Tickets are $12 for general admission and accessible seating.For more information about the documentary and tickets, click here.

Visit for more information about Diveheart. 

You’re Killing Me, Smalls! “The Sandlot” Movie Review


Some movies find a place in a boy’s heart and just never let go. The Sandlot is one of those movies that still demands repeated viewings to this day because of the memorable quotes and unforgettable characters. Every boy remembers the hot, dry days of summer when time seemed to drag on, but it didn’t matter because he had his buddies. From being afraid of the neighborhood dog to having a crush on the unreachable girl, The Sandlot manages to touch on all of the great boyhood memories.

The movie begins with Scotty Smalls moving to a new town with his mother and stepfather, Bill. His mother has high hopes that he’ll make new friends, but Smalls doesn’t feel like he’s ever been good at anything, and that extends to his inability to fit in with kids his own age. He asks his new stepdad, who is touchingly portrayed by Denis Leary, to teach him to play catch, but Bill always seems to be too busy to make time. Anyone who has grown up with divorced parents will be sympathetic to the dynamic of this relationship.

Smalls eventually runs into a group of kids playing sandlot baseball. They are in need of a ninth player, so this is Small’s chance to be one of the guys. Unfortunately, his first outing doesn’t go so well. He has a chance to catch a fly ball, but the ball bounces off his head. He follows up that embarrassment by being unable to throw the ball to the correct player, and his chance to join a new group of friends is almost over before it began. Luckily for Smalls, Benny Rodriguez decides that he should be given another chance. There doesn’t seem to be any duplicity in Benny’s compassion, and that’s one of the great things about this movie-the boys just get along.

Since Benny is the best ball player on the lot, he takes Smalls under his wing and teaches him the basics. Things turn around when Benny gets an incredible hit, and Smalls makes an equally incredible catch and throw to the infield. The gang decides that Smalls is okay after all, and their summer of adventures begins. The main focus of the boys is baseball, and their secondary focus is dreaming of Wendy Peffercorn, the local lifeguard and frequent visitor in their daydreams. After one of the guys pulls off an elaborate hoax in order to steal a kiss from Wendy, the boys lose their pool privileges for the summer. It’s all too easy to remember the early days of noticing the opposite sex during these hilarious scenes.

After the boys are banned from the pool, they continue to devote their time to being the best baseball team around. This draws the attention of the Tigers-a real team with a real field-who live on the other side of town. The Tigers are embarrassed on their home field, and the sandlot boys feel like the kings of the world. This is another refreshing aspect of this movie. The game wasn’t the climax of the movie. This is not a typical “win at all costs” sports movie; it’s just a movie about a group of kids who had an unforgettable summer. Had they lost, it wouldn’t have changed the feeling of the movie at all.

One day, as the kids are playing ball, a powerful hit by Benny ruins the only ball they have. Smalls decides to borrow his stepdad’s prized, autographed baseball, but it soon gets hit over the fence. The biggest problem with that is that The Beast controls the area beyond the fence. The Beast is the biggest, meanest dog that anyone has ever seen, so the boys try a number of clever plans in order to retrieve the ball. Finally, Benny decides that he will retrieve the ball with his superior speed provided by his PF Flyers. Benny manages to get the ball, but a hilarious high-speed chase ensues between him and The Beast. This scene-and the whole movie-is over-the-top and perfectly filmed. Nothing is as big as the imagination of a group of boys, and the recollections in this movie are all handled in an exquisitely exaggerated manner.

Of course, the dog turns out to be friendly. Of course, the dog’s owner turns out to be an ex-baseball player who saves the day. A movie like “The Sandlot” is expected to have good news for everyone. That’s what makes it such an important movie in the memories of anyone who watched it as a kid.

When people think back to their childhoods, there is often a glowing filter around those memories. Nothing bad seemed to happen back then, and anything that was perceived to be devastating usually turned out okay. That’s the kind of warm feeling this movie imparts. The Sandlot just celebrated its twentieth anniversary in April, and it’s just as fun to watch today as it was back then.

By Zack Mandell

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FSM Editorial: In Free Solo, Conquering Fear Is Not the Goal

An abridged version of the recent award winning documentary Free Solo goes something like this: Man climbs giant rock in Yosemite with no safety equipment for first time in history. The longer version involves a man with poor social skills, elite climbing skills, and a small circle of really patient friends. Instead of spoiling the journey for those who have not watched this epic documentary yet, I just want to focus on something simple said by protagonist Alex Honnald when he was discussing the danger of free soloing the famously tall El Capitan:


I physically moved, well flinched actually, upon hearing that quote for the first time (I’ve watched the film many more times since then). So simple yet so profound – one of those obvious tidbits of information I hear once in blue moon that completely changes my way of looking at something.

For so long, I’ve conflated conquering fear with the ultimate outcome of a goal. Consider for example, a swimming goal for a child who is afraid of the water. The goal itself is recording if the child gets in the pool or not, not necessarily if they are afraid. In that sense, conquering the fear of water isn’t the ultimate goal – getting in the pool is! Not being afraid is just a benchmark to hit along the way.

Or think of a person who wants to visit someone in another country but is too afraid of flying. If the goal is to fly to another country, they will have to learn more about flying than just how to manage their fear. Being unafraid won’t guarantee the individual makes it to his or her final destination. Imagine showing up in the wrong country? Then we’ll have new fears to deal with. Another example is a first time entrepreneur who finally overcomes their fear of taking out a large loan. They were just loaned the money, now what? 

Alex Honnald’s goal was never to conquer his fear of dying. His goal was to free solo El Captian. When he was confident enough in his skills and preparation, his fear of making a fatal mistake subsided. But he still had to climb the darn rock!

You face your fear because your goal demands it. So I’m moving forward with this new mentality of looking at conquering fear as more of a benchmark, or a dragon to be slain along the way, than the end result.

To purchase Free Solo on amazing 4K, click here.

FSM Movies: Escape to Victory

Sylvester Stallone is the gift that keeps on giving. Younger movie fans get the gift of discovering classic after classic as if each one was brand new. Older fans, who have the Rocky films memorized already, get the gift of quirky new projects and random appearances in things like the Marvel Universe. This review is more for the younger fans who may be aware that Stallone ended communism in Rocky IV but didn’t know he also helped end fascism by playing soccer in the movie Escape to Victory.

Headlined by the loveable Sir Michael Cane and directed by Hollywood legend John Huston, Victory was released to the masses in 1981. Since this film fell under the rare “War/Sport” genre, it made sense to cast Sylvester Stallone as he had recently played war hero John Rambo and boxing underdog Rocky Balboa.

In Victory, Stallone plays a World War II era prisoner-of-war named Captain Robert Hatch. He spends most days watching the cooler prisoners kick a soccer ball around before ending up as the team’s unlikely goalkeeper. These cooler prisoners were made up of actual soccer stars of the time such as Pelé, Bobby Moore, and Robin Turner.

For some strange reason in the film, a high-ranking Nazi officer played by Max von Sydow thinks it would be great for morale around the world to have these allied prisoners-of-war (who happen to be really really good at soccer) play an exhibition match against a German super team. Of course, the match is intended to be used as propaganda and perhaps a symbol of how Germany would crush the allies in war. Movie fans can probably guess that Stallone, Caine, and the rest of the allies put up a heck of a fight on the field. But a dilemma arises when the players have a chance to escape. This is when the movie gets especially enjoyable.

Victory is a pleasant ride from start to finish. The film presents many WW-II themes but with a lighter touch – something that’s perfect for a war movie about soccer! Additionally, the great chemistry of all cast members is evident from the opening few scenes. Stallone shines in a role that may have been written with him in mind. Pelé seems like a natural actor. The other professional footballers don’t try too hard (in a good way). And Michael Caine and Max von Sydow absolutely carry the movie. A younger Caine brings his spunky energy as the leader of the allies while von Sydow’s acting almost makes you feel bad for a Nazi.

While the subject matter and era are taken seriously, Victory feels like it could be the child of The Dirty Dozen and The Replacements. It’s not quite a war or sports movie and doesn’t necessarily try to inform the viewer of anything that’s not already known. But it’s a fun story you’ve probably never experienced before. Its ending is also one of the most underrated endings in sports movie history (no spoilers here except that Stallone is involved).

FSM Final Grade: B

Click here to purchase Victory today!

FSM Movies: The Fighter Turns 10

FSM revisits this Bostonian boxing saga nearly a decade after its release. This review was originally published on in December 2010.

Based on the life of boxing favorite “Irish” Mickey Ward, The Fighter fails to deliver the knockout blow which could have made it an instant classic with moviegoers this holiday season. Much like Ward’s professional career, The Fighter flirts with greatness but falls just a hair short when all is said and done.

The timeline and some of the events presented in this tale are inaccurate but nothing that is too atypical for a movie “based on a true story.” Overall, The Fighter gets the point across and the viewer leaves the theater with a good Cliff’s Notes version of the Mickey Ward story.

For a movie about a fast paced sport like boxing, this film trudges along at a snail’s pace. The fighting scenes are spectacularly exhilarating though they are few and far between and when they do pop up, they are short lived. The bulk of this film is a series of surreal interactions between Mickey Ward , his family, and of course the obligatory love interest.

This is definitely not the first boxing movie that is not about boxing. The original Rocky film did an excellent job of telling a love story using the darker side of the sport as a backdrop. The Fighter attempts to employ the same strategy but there is simply too much going on in the movie. Is this film about a dysfunctional family? A drug addict brother? A man who has lost the belief in himself? By trying to go in so many different directions, the movie spreads itself thin and ends up lacking in substance.

In terms of acting, there are a few strong performances, most notably Christian Bale as Dickie Ekland, the half-brother of Mickey Ward who is battling crack addiction. Melissa Leo (of Homicide: Life on the Street fame) also delivers as Ward’s mother who is both loveable and annoying to the viewer, often time simultaneously. And Mark Wahlberg is his typical, average, muscular self.  He does well during the tough guy scenes and fails miserably when trying to invoke that sense of drama which really would have made this flick reach the next level.

Despite all the hype and Golden Globe nominations (it seems like the only prerequisite these days to get nominated is that a film is released in December), The Fighter is a movie you can wait to see in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the price.

FreeSportsMag gives The Fighter a grade of C+