ESPN’s Controversial Oscar Pistorius Documentary to Hit South African Screens

A controversial documentary about convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series will soon debut on South African television screens. According to CapeTownNetC, the four-part documentary series will premiere weekly on DStv from November 19th at 8 P.M. (South African time) with repeats each Sunday at the same time from November 22nd. The documentary, which is titled The Trials of Oscar Pistorius, is facing rising public criticism from British audiences where it is already showing. Viewers have slammed ESPN for the “dangerous” narrative which reportedly presents Pistorius as a hero despite murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14th, 2013.


READ: Oscar Pistorius’ Family Is Suing Lifetime Over Upcoming Film

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius details the story of the Olympic Paralympian medalist and namely, his rise to fame and subsequent downfall. The documentary is filled with interviews by those who were closest to the story including those who knew Pistorius intimately. South Africa learnt of Steenkamp’s death early on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius, at the time, alleged that a burglar had broken in and it was the burglar, not Steenkamp, he had presumed he had shot at three times. Initially, Pistorius was found not guilty but after an appeal, was convicted and sentenced to 13 years behind bars.

The documentary, directed by BAFTA award-winner Daniel Gordon and produced by Academy Award-winner John Battsek, allegedly portrays a different perspective that shifts sympathy towards Pistorius. Gordon and Battsek are seemingly tone deaf with the narration of the documentary especially considering the high rates of gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa.

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius is evidence of the complicity of media in erasing women’s names especially those who have died at the hands of men. This is evident in public comments from the likes of Evert van der Veer, Vice President of Media Networks at the Walt Disney Company Africa, who called the work “exceptional storytelling that builds on ESPN’s legacy”.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 is a series that has gained even more popularity during the global pandemic which brought an abrupt end to live sports coverage. The series tells the stories of high profile athletes, coaches, sports stars and sports teams. American athletes are covered with each episode carrying a “heroic” theme despite some athletes having cases of rape and murder like O.J Simpson. The Pistorius case is unique in that a South African athlete is featured on the series. However, it does nothing to help existing attitudes around gender-based violence. The show focuses on the star quality of Pistorius and Steenkamp’s death is regarded as “mishap” that hindered his stardom.

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius will be available on DStv CatchUp. Watch the trailer on below:


The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius | 30 for 30 Official Trailer | ESPN

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