Festival Updates My Premiere: James Toback's TYSON

Writer/director James Toback’s TYSON, a film participating in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and a reflective look about and into the life of legendary boxer Mike Tyson.

DIRECTOR: James Toback
U.S.A., 2008, 90 min., color

A gritty and intimate portrait of one of boxing’s most polarizing figures, James Toback’s TYSON recounts Iron Mike’s rise to superstardom and subsequent fall from grace through the eyes of the man himself. Candid interviews with Tyson reveal an often-misunderstood persona that encompasses a broad spectrum of decidedly human instincts. He is at once gentle and animalistic, humane and violent, predator and prey.

After a stint in a juvenile reform school, where his boxing skills took root, the 14-year-old Tyson was introduced to legendary trainer Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, who took the young fighter under his wing and served as one of the only positive figures in his life. D’Amato died before he was able to see his final protégé become the sport’s youngest heavyweight champion at 20 years old, an event that started a chain reaction in Tyson’s young life.

His meteoric success in the ring collapsed under a sea of controversy—his ill-fated marriage to Robin Givens, who publicly maligned him as a violent beast; an arrest and conviction for the rape of Desiree Washington, a charge which he still denies; a highly publicized falling out with promoter Don King; and his infamous 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield. Toback manages to crack Mike Tyson’s brooding exterior to expose both the best and worst of the most explosive and controversial enigma in the history of the sport. —ADAM MONTGOMERY

ExP: Mike Tyson, Harlan Werner, Nicholas Jarecki, Henry Jarecki, Bob Yari, Carmelo Anthony Pr: Damon Bingham, James Toback Ci: Larry McConkey Ed: Aaron Yates Mu: Salaam Remi, song “Legendary” by Nas