Cannes Lions

RUN: The Athlete Refugee Team Story

HUNGRY MAN, London / ON / 2021

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
Film
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Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

From the director:

''In 2017, I went to Kenya and directed a short sponsorship film about the Athlete Refugee Team. There were 31 athlete refugees from six countries living and training together in the Ngong hills north of Nairobi. The founder of the training camp is former Kenyan athletics star Madam Tegla Loroupe.

While filming the selection trials for the upcoming World Championships, one athlete, Kadar Omar collapsed on the ground after his race and screamed at the sky: “I am a human being. I can do what others can do!” He had beaten his personal best time by 15 seconds and qualified for the World Championships. It was very hard not to be moved by his efforts.

At the end of that trip to Kenya, Madam Tegla took me aside and said very directly “You must come back and tell the whole story.” And so I did''

Idea

The film begins in 2017 and covers three years and the unprecedented hurdles which were placed in the path of these star athletes - not least a global pandemic - as they navigated seeking asylum while competing overseas. As a result, the film tracks a human drama that is less about medals and more about people simply looking for a place to call home.

Strategy

The strategy was to follow the human story organically with no set agenda.

Execution

Filmed over a three-year period, across eight countries in three different continents - ‘RUN’ is a story of unwavering human spirit, empowerment and fearless bravery by a group of athlete refugees from the Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan.

The final chapter of this story (for now) has had COVID-19 to compete with. With their training camp closed, the team were sent back to refugee camps and forced to put their Olympic ambitions on hold. The final arc of the film was therefore directed from afar, with the athletes self-shooting on Skype and smartphones in Israel, Germany, Kenya and Switzerland.

Self-shooting aside, throughout the film’s three-year journey the director ensured the athletes were empowered and in control of their own narratives.

Outcome

‘RUN’ was officially released on athleterefugeeteam.com on June 20th, World Refugee Day, on which 15% of On’s e-commerce sales went to the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation – to buy land next to the team’s basecamp in Ngong to build their own track and field facilities to train in.

Additionally, the documentary will reach a global audience by being broadcast on ESPN, Globo, Eurosport, BEin Sports and more.

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