Running the World

Having racked up three audience awards since its world premiere in Edinburgh (June 2013), director Jennifer Steinman will present her feature doc Desert Runners at IDFA in the Best of the Fests section.

The crowd nods were at the fests of Edinburgh, Vancouver and The Hamptons. Cargo Releasing’s David Piperni is representing the film at Docs for Sale. Producer Yael Melamede, also in attendance at IDFA, this year won an Oscar for best documentary short with Inocente, directed by Sean Fina and Andrea Nix.

Desert Runners follows four runners – the young Australian Samantha, 56-year-old Dave from Ireland, London-based US ex-pat Ricky, and widower Tremaine – who embark upon the arduous ‘4-desert challenge’: four individual 250km marathons across the Atacama, Gobi, Sahara and Antarctic deserts, each leg to be completed within five days. The characteristics of each terrain are daunting. While Atacama is used by space agencies to replicate conditions on Mars, the Sahara, we are told, is the hottest desert on earth, with temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius. The Gobi is the world’s windiest desert and Antarctica the coldest.
Moving film still from Desert Runners, created by Tech Noir. More Cinemagraphs >>

“It is a pretty awesome challenge,” director Steinman stresses, also for her and her cameraman who had to follow the runners across the vast swathes of wasteland, often on foot. “Yes, it was a hard slog,” she concedes. “Most days we were the first up and the last to bed.”

Steinman says she became fascinated by the idea after hearing runner Dave at a nutrition conference. “He dropped into his talk how he was going to do the 4-desert challenge, and I knew immediately I wanted to film it,” she says. Originally he was to be the sole subject, but Steinman was forced to widen the terms of the brief after he revealed, just before the race, that he hadn’t trained as diligently as might be expected. “We were like, what! So we thought, we’d better get some other storylines.”

As one may expect, Desert Runners is a film that offers triumph and despair in equal measure, and audiences are left in no doubt as to how dangerous the adventure can be. Nor are they spared the visceral detail of blood and blisters, advice on which parts of the anatomy to keep clean during the ordeal, as well as stories such as that told by a runner who fell over, only to see his intestines pour through a ruptured stomach wall. Not surprisingly, the competitors eschew sporting metaphor when describing their ordeal. They are the “walking wounded” and their theater of endeavour is nothing other than “a war zone.”

Nick Cunningham
Opening film: Stranger in Paradise October 18, 2016 | IDFA 2016 will open at the Royal Theatre Carré on November 16 with Stranger in Paradise by Dutch director Guido Hendrikx, exploring the relationship between Europe and refugees in a film on the boundary between documentary and drama.
Three films selected for IBF Europe distribution support October 18, 2016 | The IDFA Bertha Fund has concluded the final selection round of 2016. Three documentaries will receive grants through the IBF Europe scheme for distribution support.
IDFA Forum Selection 2016 October 17, 2016 | The selection for IDFA Forum 2016 has been announced. This year's Forum welcomes 60 pitch teams from 25 different countries.
Film List 2016 October 10, 2016 | The full line-up for IDFA 2016 is now online. Full details on all films and programme information will be announced November 3.
IDFA Spotlight in Ramallah October 4, 2016 | IDFA will present a documentary programme during the upcoming ‘Days of Cinema’, taking place October 15-21 in Ramallah.
Special focus program: Assembling Reality October 4, 2016 | In the IDFA 2016 special focus program Assembling Reality, leading international editors - including director/editor Frederick Wiseman - will discuss the role of editing in constructing documentary narratives.
Special focus program: Shifting Perspectives September 27, 2016 | The special focus program Shifting Perspectives will investigate the role of opinion-shaping in terms of the way we see and think about race and identity, as well as the perspectives from which we do so.
Special focus program: The Quiet Eye September 20, 2016 | IDFA’s special focus program The Quiet Eye will investigate ‘slow documentary’, presenting documentary projects that take the experience of time in real life as their starting point.
Sergei Loznitsa to present Top 10 August 30, 2016 | This year’s IDFA Top 10 will be compiled by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa. His latest documentary, Austerlitz, will have its world premiere at the Venice film festival and will screen at IDFA as part of a retrospective of Loznitsa's work.
IDFA Award at Docu Rough Cut Boutique August 19, 2016 | At last night's closing ceremony of the Docu Rough Cut Boutique of the Sarajevo Film Festival, the IDFA Award was given to City of the Sun by Rati Oneli.
The Vice Documentary Pitch at IDFA July 25, 2016 | VICE returns to IDFA to launch The VICE Documentary Pitch at IDFA, offering filmmakers a chance to win a commission from the VICE documentary team. 
IDFA Bertha Fund Concludes May 2016 Selection July 12, 2016 | Eleven documentary projects from countries including Sudan, Chile, Syria, Cuba, Afghanistan and Ukraine will be supported through IDFA Bertha Fund - Classic. The selection includes new projects by Maite Alberdi, Alisa Kovalenko and Manolo Sarmiento.


IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 2 days ago
RT @sheffdocfest: We're heading back to Amsterdam with our legendary Sheffield Doc/Fest & @Dogwoof Party at @idfa - Tue 22 Nov! RSVP: https…
IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 4 days ago
On November 16, IDFA 2016 will open at @theatercarre with Stranger in Paradise by Guido Hendrikx:…
BankGiro LoterijVPROOxfam Novibde VolkskrantFonds 21VSBfonds