A group of ultra-marathoners traverse an average of 45 miles a day, 64 stages without rest days, for a total of 2,800 miles from the south of Italy to the North Cape, Norway. They spend nights in the gym, in kindergartens, in swimming pools; the roads are not closed during race days. There’s a 58-year-old professional athlete, there’s a hairdresser from Toulouse, there’s a family man suffering from multiple sclerosis, there’s a housewife from Tokyo… all chasing a common goal, and all aiming to do it first. The 89-minute German documentary, I Want to Run — The Toughest Race in the World, is the story of that race.
Le Mans: Chasing the Dream deals with the struggles of a 22-year-old supermarket shelve stacker, who dreams of being a works racing driver, at the world’s greatest race, Le Mans. The 54-minute documentary captures the atmosphere and madness of this magnificent event, and what it is like to be a part of it as both fan and competitor. Then there’s Blue Horizon, which deals with the world of surfing. Big Wall Challenge is a documentary on a Japanese climber, who, after losing his fingers and toes in a snow slide, comes back to challenge the world’s most difficult mountain cliff. Soufian: Leo Messi’s Idol is the poignant tale of a limbless 11-year-old boy who plays football and basketball like any other schoolboy, and his emotions when he gets to meet his idol, Barcelona ace Leo Messi.
All these and much more would be showcased during the two-day Qatar Sports Film Festival (QSFF), being organised jointly by The Youth Company (TYC) and the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum, at the Alriwaq Doha exhibition space in the precincts of the Museum of Islamic Art on May 24 & 25. The first of its kind film festival in the region, being under the patronage of FICTS (Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs), aims to promote the art of screenwriting and filmmaking in the world of sports and the Olympics.
“This is the first time a sports film festival is being organised in this part of the world. During the course of the ‘Olympics Past and Present’ exhibition here, we have held a series of events to create some awareness among the general public about the Games. This will be the last, and probably the biggest, event before the exhibition concludes (on June 30),” Dr Christian Wacker, Director of Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum (QOSM), told reporters yesterday.
The festival also includes a short film contest. Since the beginning of April 2013, filmmakers and sports fans were encouraged to submit short films that focus on sport-related themes such as sport games, sport values, teamwork, ancient Olympia, modern Olympic Games and the like. From the variety of submissions which were received from different parts of the world, the top five will be screened during the opening night of the festival tomorrow (Friday). There will be cash prizes for the best three short films (QR10,000, QR8,000 and QR6,000).
“We are confident that the film contest will inspire many more local filmmakers to present their perspective of sports in Qatar and contribute to the sports heritage,” added Wacker. “We want the sports-loving people to come and watch these award-winning documentaries. It will be a different experience.”
During the opening ceremony tomorrow, the guests will be able to meet and talk with some of the directors and producers of the top five short films. Public screenings of sports documentaries will follow afterwards until 11pm. The festival will conclude at 11pm on Saturday. The line-up of films include I Want to Run—The Toughest Race in the World (Germany, 2011), Le Mans: Chasing the Dream (UK, 2007), Blue Horizon (Australia, 2004), Big Wall Challenge (Japan, 2008), Ginger: More than a Game (Serbia, 2012), and One Revolution—The Story of Chris Waddell’s Journey to the Roof of Africa (USA, 2010).