Durban, South Africa, July 20th, 2019: Roads to Olympia, the dramatic feature debut of New York-based, North Caucasus-born filmmaker, Ramazan Nanayev, will premiere at the Durban International Film Festival in July of 2019. The film weaves a story of three young athletes, in different parts of the world, who face adversity not only in their respective sports but in their personal lives as well. These stories show the human tragedy of aspiring athletes challenged by oppression and intolerance as they fight their way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
In a world that celebrates its top athletes as superstars, men and women in the world of sport are elevated to a position of modern heroes. Those at the top of their game are adorned with financial rewards and celebrity status. But what fans and supporters don’t often see is the world that goes on off the field – the circumstances that can hold back or destroy the most gifted of competitors.
Roads to Olympia is set in Brazil, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, each being a hotbed of societal tensions and a place in need of social change. Highlighting issues like homophobia, racism, and gender discrimination, the film attempts to raise awareness of social injustice in the world and acts as a call to action for the ongoing fight against inequality.
Turning a landmark 40 this year under the theme of Reimagining DIFFerent, the Durban International Film Festival is heralded for celebrating the decolonization of the embedded canonical and global film centers, and for returning to the need of finding the hidden gems of cinema. In this light, it is recognized for creating a platform where new film voices are discovered and born annually.
As the place where the legendary Nelson Mandela began his crusade to lead his people to equality and justice, Durban was deemed a natural venue in which to debut the film. The festival in Durban is an internationally prestigious one, and a unique phenomenon on the African cultural calendar.
Growing up, Nanayev competed in a myriad of sports, including wrestling and decathlon, with the hope of one day competing in the Olympic Games. As a competitive athlete, he not only witnessed the extreme physical pain he and his teammates endured but also got an up-close look at their personal hardships. As a Circassian immigrant – an indigenous Muslim culture based in the North Caucasus of Russia – he also experienced various forms of discrimination throughout his life. In turn, Nanayev has made it a mission to create films based on cultural and societal issues and stories that impact viewers towards positive change.
“The world does not always reflect the best values of humanity. Today, we find ourselves in a place where hate, division, and inequality run rampant through the streets of many cities,” Nanayev shares. “Roads To Olympia is relevant to the times we live in today. It presses on major problems inherent in many societies. I hope this film encourages the audience to reflect upon these issues and inspires people to take active roles in a worldwide campaign towards equality.”
Roads to Olympia is slated to premiere at the 40th Durban International Film Festival on the 20th and then again on the 25th of July.