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The Challenge

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
2:00 p.m.
Roxie Theater

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Saturday, April 15, 2017
12:30 p.m.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017
6:30 p.m.
Roxie Theater

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At the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, a competition is about to begin. Where the sand dunes meet the sea, participants and observers converge: A Qatari biker gang cruises the desert highways, their leader astride a gold-plated Harley Davidson; elsewhere, a pet cheetah bounds into the passenger seat of a Lamborghini, and is soon joined by her kandura-clad owner. In the skies above, a gentleman dotes on his prized falcons, who rest sphinxlike on custom perches in the cabin of a private jet. These arresting and surreal passages form the visual grammar of The Challenge, director Yuri Ancarani’s immersive portrait of the ancient practice of Arab falconry. Filmed over a three-year period, this stylized film merges striking desert landscapes with the idiosyncratic details of a major falconry competition, revealing how a hunting tradition dating to antiquity has survived into the modern era by embracing technology rather than resisting it. While falconers still keep their avian familiars in leather blinds–gently releasing the drawstrings with their teeth–they also track the birds with modern GPS devices, follow them in roaring fleets of white SUVs, and watch their rivals on makeshift Jumbotrons planted in the desert sands. In the film’s remarkable centerpiece, one falcon is even fitted with a small camera, transmitting a raptor’s eye view of the austere desert plain and the inexorable pursuit of its prey. Screens with Fajr (13 min), Lois Patiño’s mysterious new short. –Paul Meyers

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Yuri Ancarani is an Italian artist and filmmaker. His distinctive nonfiction shorts, Il Capo (2010), Da Vinci(2012), and San Siro (2014), have been recognized in both gallery settings and major film festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand, Cinéma du Réel, IDFA, SXSW, and the Guggenheim Museum.  His recent feature, The Challenge, was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival.
Film Details
  • Country(ies): France/Italy
  • Language(s): Arabic
  • Year: 2016
  • Running time: 70
  • Director(s): Yuri Ancarani
  • Producer(s): Christophe Gougeon, Fabrizio Polpettini, Pierre Malachin, Tommaso Bertani
  • Cinematographer(s): Yuri Ancarani, Luca Nervegna, Jonathan Ricquebourg
  • Editor(s): Yuri Ancarani
  • Music: Lorenzo Senni, Francesco Fantini

Print Source:
Slingshot Films
Trieste, Italy