We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Olympic heroes generally only show up on our radar every four years, and even less frequently once they’re no longer competing. Greg Louganis, generally considered the best diver his sport has ever known, is no exception, so the opening moments of Cheryl Furjanic’s Louganis documentary, Back on Board, may come as something of a shock: The athlete’s house is in disrepair, his life in boxes, as he fields calls from debt collectors. From there, Furjanic jumps back and forth between past and present, telling Louganis’ story from his first forays into acrobatics, as a toddler tumbling through the sand on the beach, to his present spill into debt and foreclosure. It’s a disarmingly personal portrait—Louganis kept his personal life hidden behind shy smiles during his unmatched Olympic career, but here he’s as emotionally open with the camera as if he’s in a therapy session. Furjanic shows a keen sense of how to structure Louganis’ failures alongside his dramatic victories for maximum impact, as well as making poignant personal-is-political statements about evolving views of homosexuality—within Louganis’s personal life, in his sport, and in the culture as a whole.