Director: Steve James
Screenwriters: Steve James

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Hoop Dreams director Steve James returns to Sundance with a new feature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young athlete. But like his previous work, Prefontaine is as much a drama about personal growth and change as a portrayal of athletic accomplishment.

The film recounts the career of one of the legends of track and field, distance runner Steve Prefontaine. The stars of track and field had seldom managed to capture the imagination of the public or attention of the press.. So when this wildly competitive maverick established himself as a star on one of the powerhouse track teams of the sixties (the University of Oregon), both adulation and resentment followed. Described as the James Dean of track but really named by the crowds who chanted his abbreviated moniker, “Pre,” as he ran, he elevated the sport of long-distance running to new heights.

James traces Prefontaine’s remarkable career from college track star to the Olympics. Pre’s heartbreak and triumphs, his inexorable will to win, his fight for athlete’s rights, and his maturation as a human being make for riveting entertainment. James has fashioned a poignant and dramatic biopic whose blending of newsreel footage with a perfect performance by Jared Leto makes for a fascinating chronicle of a remarkable and tragic life.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

  • Section: Opening Night Festival Celebration in Provo
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 102 min.
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