|The Challenge screening
|Short Film, Video
|20 April 2017 to 20 April 2017
|Exile Room Athens
105 51 AthinaGreece
|+30 210 3223395
Frequent travellers among you might have already wondered: why on earth would Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways allow falcons on board? In fact, falcons are not only permitted on the main aircraft (the only exception to the no animal rule), they have their own passports and, in certain cases, are allowed to purchase their own seats. Italian visual artist Yuri Ancarani provides all the explanation you’ll ever need in his jaw-dropping documentary “The Challenge”, which crosses the Persian Gulf to accompany a falconer to an important competition. The art of falconry is a strange beast: uniting contemporary luxury with a 40-century-old hunting ritual, it allows urban dwellers of a certain stature to rekindle their waning relationship with the desert.
The sport has naturally changed along with the times, but Ancarani – who notably spent three years recording these intriguing all-male encounters – is not inclined to divulge the rules. Instead, he creates an almost erotic mise-en-scène, featuring men, cars and cigars, where women have been thoroughly replaced by birds. Falcons, bought and sold on televised auctions for breathtaking sums, surge through the air in pursuit of just released pigeons, while a throng of distinguished participants follow them in custom-built Lamborghinis, gold Harley Davidsons and armored SUVs, entranced by their soaring flight.
Once a prevailing passion of the medieval aristocracy, falconry still thrives within the folds of Arab aristocracy where its prestige remains largely undiminished. Unrestrained by the confines of civilized society, participants are free to indulge in this mysterious passion, where extreme wealth appears to be a prerequisite. But Yuri Ancarani has no intention of passing judgment. On the contrary, he plays up the Mad Max element of the desert setting, where giant sand dunes threaten to swallow the Qatari sheikhs at every turn, in an enchanting osmosis of tradition and technology.
Opening to critical acclaim at the 69th Locarno Film Festival, “The Challenge” touched down at the 19th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in March and is scheduled to land in Athens on April 20th, a fitting addition to the city’s cultural agenda that’s currently playing host to Documenta 14.
The Challenge (trailer). A film by Yuri Ancarani. Documentary - France / Italy 2016 - 69 minutes. Jury's Special Prize / Filmmakers of the Present / 69° Locarno Film Festival.