The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius will premiere from Thursday 19 November at 20:00 (CAT) on ESPN (DStv 218) with repeats each Sunday at 20:00 from 22 November. The four films will also be available on DStv Catch Up, as well as the ESPN Player App.

The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius is a four part documentary series and the latest instalment in the Peabody and Emmy award-winning 30 for 30 sports documentary series. The 30 for 30 series started as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of ESPN and has gone on to chronicle over 100 sportsmen / teams over the years.

Featuring interviews with more than a dozen of the figures closest to the story, The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius recounts Pistorius’s fall from grace after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of 14 February 2013 in his home in Pretoria. According to Pistorius, the event was a tragic accident, but his troubled past and questionable testimony cast doubt on his innocence.

The film flashes back to the very beginning of the future Paralympic star’s life, chronicling his improbable ascent from a young boy who had both his undeveloped legs amputated as a toddler to overnight teenage phenomenon at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. Shattering records and convention, “The Blade Runner,” as he became known, then went on a quest to compete against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics.

The film explores his struggle against international track and field officials continued for years before Pistorius finally prevailed and competed at the London Olympics in 2012. Less than a year later, he was in a South African courtroom, accused of murdering his girlfriend, which is covered extensively in the film.

A few notes , to answer some of the queries that have come up recently:

  • Over 200 people were interviewed for the film.
  • Director Daniel Gordon and the film making team travelled to eight countries (over a period of four years) to conduct interviews for the film including South Africa, Italy, America, Iceland and Germany.
  • Nobody was paid to do interviews for the film.
  • Both the Steenkamp and Pistorius families were consulted in the research and planning for the film. Both families were given the opportunity to be interviewed.
  • Neither family are benefitting financially from this film.

The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius Episodic Synopses:

Film 1Thursday 19 November at 20:00

When South Africans wake up on February 14th, 2013, they never could have seen what was coming. Oscar Pistorius, one of the country’s most well-known sporting figures, had shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, to death. The circumstances are hazy. It is said to be an accident, then perhaps something worse – and immediately, South Africa is thrown into a hurricane of tumult. And somehow it’s all just beginning…

Film 2Thursday 26 November at 20:00

A month after Oscar Pistorius’ release on bail, he is living at his uncle’s home, where he builds his upcoming trial defense, a shell of the person that rose to fame in 2004. After “The Blade Runner” achieved success at the Athens Paralympics, he set his sights on an ambitious goal: competing against able-bodied athletes in the Olympic Games. A long, at times contentious battle with track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, ensued, but eventually, on appeal, in 2008, Oscar prevailed. Yet all that is a distant memory when he is formally charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Film 3Thursday 3 December at 20:00

A judge is assigned to the Oscar Pistorius trial – Thokozile Masipa, a respected scholar who grew up in Soweto during Apartheid. Still, for all the dignity of Masipa, the trial turns into a televised, tabloid circus, with holes in the testimony of prosecution witnesses matched by revelations about Pistorius’s life following his dominance at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, drawing questions about his maturity, his temper, and the turbulence of his passionate relationship with Reeva Steenkamp.

Film 4Thursday 10 December at 20:00

When Oscar Pistorius takes the stand to explain what happened on the night of 13 February, 2013, it’s hard to believe how much has transpired since he competed in the 400 meters at the 2012 London Olympics. But disappointment in the Paralympics followed, and his life began to spiral, with his infatuation with guns and his paranoia growing, all culminating in the confounding, tragic death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. His testimony goes poorly, and while the judge concedes there’s no disputing the timeline the defence laid out for its story, she convicts Pistorius of culpable homicide (i.e. manslaughter), and sentences him to five years in prison – a decision that will be appealed and overturned to murder, ultimately increasing his sentence to 15 years behind bars.

ESPN 30 for 30 franchise

The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius is the latest instalment in the Peabody and Emmy award-winning 30 for 30 series. The 30 for 30 series started as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of ESPN and has gone on to chronicle over 100 sportsmen / teams over the years.

Other films in the franchise include:

  • LANCE – Focussing on Lance Armstrong
  • Be Water – Focussing on Bruce Lee
  • The Last Dance – Focusing on Michael Jordan
  • Long Gone Summer  – Focussing  Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa
  • O.J. Made in America – Focussing on OJ Simpson
  • The U – Focussing on the Miami Hurricanes NFL team
  • The Two Escobars – Focussing on Andres and Pablo Escabar

Broadcast dates for each film

  • Part 1: Thursday 19 November at 20:00. Repeat on Sunday 22 November at 20:00
  • Part 2: Thursday 26 November at 20:00. Repeat on Sunday 29 November at 20:00
  • Part 3: Thursday 3 December at 20:00. Repeat on Sunday 6 December at 20:00
  • Part 4: Thursday 10 December at 20:00. Repeat on Sunday 13 December at 20:00

The films will broadcast on ESPN (DStv 218)

The films will also be available on DStv Catch Up (after the Sunday repeat of each one).