Presto, a Berlino, il 25 settembre, verrà proiettata la prima del film The Unknown Runner che racconta la storia di Geoffrey Kipsang, presetanta come "a story of struggle, sacrifice and dedication. Follow him on his journey up to the Marathon debut".
The Unknown Runner follows the story of Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipsang on the long road to his marathon debut.
Quella che segue è un'intervista rilasciata qualche mese fa dal regista del film.
SPIKES speaks exclusively to Dutch director Boudewijn De Kemp, to find out what the film can teach us about the most successful nation of distance runners on the planet.
How did you get involved in the project? I’m a director with roots in advertising but I’m also an avid runner. I really enjoy running at a recreational level and competing in road races, just for fun. My interest was triggered by the fact that the top African runners seemed to come out of nowhere. I had seen a piece about Jos Hermens [the founder of Global Sports Communications, one of the world’s biggest athletics management agencies] talking about training camps in Africa, and this started an idea brewing in my head. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to see the background story of an African runner? I called the film The Unknown Runner because they [the African athletes] are almost faceless. They are achieving amazing things but don’t get the recognition. I thought, we should follow a talented runner through to his marathon debut and show his background story.
How did Geoffrey come to be the central character in the film? I went to Global Sports Communication and said I would like to follow an athlete towards his international marathon debut. They provided me with a few names but, to me, Geoffrey was the interesting one.
Why was his story worth telling? His story was typical of many other Kenyan runners who come to Europe to win. They grow up and have little else to do besides farming. It is a harsh life. Athletics provides them an escape route from this life.
What were the biggest challenges you faced? The biggest challenge was the modesty of the Kenyan people. In their eyes Geoffrey hasn’t achieved anything. Of course, he is a great talent but it is unusual in Kenya to film somebody who isn’t that well known. I think Geoffrey was a bit embarrassed to be filmed. For us in the west this would be a normal concept but in Kenya they asked, “why aren’t you filming Eliud Kipchoge [the 2003 world 5000m champion], or an athlete who has won more?” In the end it all worked out perfectly. We didn’t interfere. We were a fly on the wall, which is always what we said we should be.
Do you have a personal highlight from the project? Yes. I met another athlete in the camp who was a Ugandan. He chatted to us in the camp and helped us settle in with the other athletes. That athlete was Stephen Kiprotich, who went on to win the Olympic marathon title in London. I recall watching the race and going crazy. It was great that we had got to know him.
Who will the film appeal to? It isn’t just a sports documentary. It is much bigger than that and it will appeal to runners worldwide. We also focus on the general development of athletics in Kenya. For instance, we also take a look at Geoffrey’s coach, Patrick Sang, the Olympic 1992 steeplechase silver medalist who was one of the first generation of Kenyan runners who made some money. After retirement he helped build the camp with Jos. The sport has seen a lot of change in Kenyan over the past 30 years. When Patrick used to train he did so covertly by night or very early in the morning, because people saw running as something only for dumb people. Attitudes have changed to the extent that the top Kenyan runners are now regarded as national heroes.
When is the film due to be released? We are still in the post-production phase and we still need some funds before it is released. I would expect it to be [released] in the second quarter of this year. Of course, we would like to go in the cinemas but documentaries are a hard market for that. If Geoffrey is running in London. for instance. we can release the film a week prior to the London Marathon. The other route is through the app and as a DVD to watch on the iPad.
Find out more about the film at theunknownrunner.com or watch the trailer below.