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5 August 2016

Escape to victory.

by Andrew MacGregor

UNHCR: “Olympic Refugee Team” - 1 min 34s

Home is where the heart is, but as we've seen and heard in increasingly grim detail over recent months, tens of millions have been endured countless hardships in search of a new place to call home.

As the international community descends on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have assembled a ten-strong team of refugees to give those in a state of flux a symbol of hope.

This gripping film serves as a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the initiative, but it also stands on its own as an accomplished piece of work. Deftly juxtaposing footage of the migrant crisis with the refugee team's training, the film produces some striking imagery as an AK-47 becomes a starter's pistol and survival instinct is depicted at its rawest.

Directors Jonny Madderson and Jono Stevens do an adroit job of portraying the team's efforts against a turbulent backdrop. Wary of audiences becoming desensitised to this humanitarian emergency, the duo contrast the athletes' measured preparations with the frantic efforts of migrants to reach dry land, revive family members, or to simply endure another day in the unknown.

It's a horrifying test of human limits, and those lucky enough to be able to test theirs in the safety of the sporting arena have a palpable understanding of what true struggle is.

As well as emphasising sport's healing properties, the piece underlines how we can take national identity for granted. When your homeland is scarred beyond recognition, it can leave a country's most able individuals without direction. As supers inform us, the Olympic team hopes to provide a way forward.

Film Production: Just So
Director: Jono Stevens / Jonny Madderson
Producer: Matt Diegan
Executive Producer: Richard Ascott
Cinematographer: Charlie Goodger / Luke Bryant / Daniel Venosa / Dominic Bartels
Editor: Simon Hargood @ The Assembly Rooms Ⓟ Ⓦ
Post Production: Brad Wood @ The Mill Ⓟ Ⓦ
Colourist: Oisin O'Driscoll @ The Mill Ⓟ Ⓦ
Composer: Joe Farley

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