Oscar-nominated director Waad Al-Kateab directs new documentary about famous IOC refugee Olympic team

Film by acclaimed Syrian filmmaker follows athletes competing at this year’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / August 4, 2021 / Award-winning non-fiction studio XTR today announced a new feature documentary about the famous IOC Refugee Olympic Team directed by Waad Al-Kateab, following his Oscar winner®– nominated debut, For Sama, and produced by Oscar®-the winner Joanna Natasegara (The First Democracy, The White Helmets, Virunga) by Violet Films and two-time Oscar® candidate Bryn Mooser. The film is supported by Joe Gebbia, designer and co-founder of Airbnb, a longtime advocate for refugee issues. Gebbia is joined as executive producer by Jason Ropell and Nevine Mabro, and by XTR executive producers Justin Lacob and Kathryn Everett.

Al-Kateab and Natasegara had unprecedented access to the IOC Refugee Olympic Team before, during and after the 2020 Games where the award-winning filmmakers are currently on the pitch. The team consists of 29 athletes competing in Tokyo, from 11 countries and residing in 13 host countries.

“I am very honored to have the opportunity to capture the stories of these inspiring athletes on their way to compete in the world’s greatest sporting event,” said Waad Al-Kateab. “I recognize much of their experience in my own journey as a refugee and I feel very determined to represent their heart, determination and resilience in a way they deserve. Despite the hardships for anyone leaving their homeland, the stories of the Refugee Olympic Team are a moving combination of ambition, joy and challenge. ‘

“It’s a pleasure to work with this team on this film,” said Joanna Natasegara. “The Refugee Olympic Team is a rich and diverse group that shows the best traits of humanity. Their travels so far have been difficult both in life and on the road to Tokyo and we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience this time with them. Through Waad’s unique vision and leadership and our truly unique access, we strive to create a very special portrait of these world-class athletes at an incredible time in their lives.

“Our hope for this documentary is to shed light on the global refugee crisis through the lens of these talented athletes who have continued to display immense bravery and strength, no matter what their circumstances,” Bryn said. Mooser, CEO of XTR. “We are honored to support Waad in telling the stories of these incredible athletes and his perspective on their survival and perseverance is deeply personal and profound.”

“Helping and protecting refugees around the world is a critical and very important issue for me,” said Joe Gebbia. “To be able to tell this revolutionary story to show the struggles of these triumphant and incredible athletes conquering one of the greatest human achievements, is an honor. Their experiences deserve to be shared with the world at large. ‘

Flag bearers Yusra Mardini and Tachlowini Gabriyesos of the Refugee Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo by Matthias Hangst / Getty Images)

About Waad Al-Kateab

Al-Kateab began her career as a self-taught citizen journalist, documenting the horrors she faced while living in Syria. His “Inside Aleppo” reporting series for UK channel Channel 4 News has garnered nearly half a billion views online and won 24 awards. His 2019 film For Sama, produced by Al-Kateab and Channel 4 News, and produced by Nevine Mabro, was nominated for an Academy Award®, won The Golden Eye (the award for best documentary) at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a six-minute standing ovation. For Sama went on to become the most nominated documentary in BAFTA history with four nominations, ultimately winning the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary. Its advocacy campaign, Action for Sama, focuses on conflict awareness in Syria and seeks accountability for war crimes committed by the Syrian and Russian regimes.

About Joanna Natasegara

Joanna Natasegara is an Oscar®-winning film producer and founder of Violet Films, the London-based production company. His productions have received over 100 award nominations and 64 wins, including one BAFTA, two BIFAs, three Oscar® and five Emmy nominations; as well as two Peabody Awards. Joanna’s Movies Include Netflix Originals: Oscar® Winners The White Helmets (2016), nominated for BAFTA and Oscars® Virunga (2014) and Oscar® nominated The edge of democracy (2019); as well as the winning BIFA Evelyne (2018) for BBC Films and BFI, and Emmy winner The Nightcrawlers (2020) for National Geographic. Joanna is now producing a highly anticipated list of projects focused on social justice, including the Heart of Invictus with Archewell Productions and the upcoming adaptation of Virunga, written by Academy Award® winner Barry Jenkins with Appian Way, both for Netflix.

About Joe Gebbia

Joe Gebbia is the co-founder of Airbnb. Entrepreneur from a young age, he is obsessed with the idea of ​​launching new ideas. Currently, he serves on the boards of Airbnb and Airbnb.org, the nonprofit arm he helped start to provide housing in times of crisis. Joe has spoken globally on both entrepreneurship and design, and has received numerous accolades such as the Inc 30 under 30, and speaking at TED, Wired and the Clinton Global Initiative. Airbnb was selected as one of the “50 Best Innovative Companies” by Fast Company and “Company of the Year” by Inc.

About XTR

XTR is America’s premier premium non-fiction film and television studio. Fueled by the documentary revolution, XTR nurtures a community of non-fiction filmmakers and ensures their stories are heard by a new wave of audiences. Founded by two-time Oscar nominee Bryn Mooser, XTR is led by an award-winning management team who share a common goal of cultivating top talent, supporting incredible filmmakers, and giving them the resources they need to tell their stories. stories. The studio offers a full range of services including financing, development, production and distribution. Since its inception in 2019, XTR has produced and funded over 50 feature films and documentary series. XTR’s current roster includes titles such as the Neon Acquisition AILEY, which premiered in theaters nationwide on July 23, HOMEROOM, which was acquired by Hulu and produced by Ryan Coogler, and REBEL HEARTS, which was Discovery + ‘s first premium non-fiction acquisition. In 2021, XTR launched the DOCUMENTARY + platform, the premier global streaming service for documentary films and series. DOCUMENTARY + has a highly organized library of over 200 non-fiction titles. DOCUMENTARY + is available for free worldwide on all streaming platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices and www.docplus.com. To learn more about XTR, visit www.xtr.com

About the IOC Refugee Olympic Team

At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in October 2015, faced with the global refugee crisis that has caused the displacement of millions of people around the world, IOC President Thomas Bach announced the creation of the refugee Olympic team – the first of its kind – to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In collaboration with the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the IOC identified refugee athletes around the world and, through Olympic Solidarity, provided them with the necessary support and funding to help them in their qualification efforts.

Ten months after the announcement, 10 athletes, from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, competed alongside 11,000 other athletes in Rio, sending a message of hope and inclusion to millions of refugees and inspiring the world with the strength of their human spirit.

In October 2018, the IOC Session decided that there will be an Olympic refugee team for Tokyo 2020. Olympic Solidarity was responsible for establishing the conditions of participation and defining the team selection process, in close collaboration with the UNHCR, the NOCs, the International Sports Federations (IFs) and the organizing committee of Tokyo 2020.

Through this program, Olympic Solidarity helps refugee athletes not only to train with the aim of qualifying for the Olympic Games, but also to pursue their sports career and build their future.

The IOC Refugee Olympic Team is:

Abdullah Sediqi, Taekwondo (-68kg)

Ahmad Badreddin Wais, Cycling (time trial)

Aker Al Obaidi, Wrestling (Greco-Romain -67kg)

Alaa Maso, Swimming (50m freestyle)

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Athletics (1500m)

Aram Mahmoud, Badminton (Singles)

Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II, Weightlifting (-96kg)

Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi, Taekwondo (-49kg)

Dorian Kelatela, Athletics (100m)

Eldric Sella Rodriguez, boxing (-75kg)

Hamoon Derafshi For, Karate (-67kg)

Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed, Athletics (5000m)

James Nyak Chiengjiek, Athletics (400m)

Kimia Alizadeh, Taekwondo (57kg)

Luna Solomon, Shooting (10m air rifle)

Masomah Ali Zada, Cycling (time trial)

Paulo Amotun Lokoro, Athletics (1500m)

Popole Misenga, Judo (-90kg and mixed team)

Rose Likonyen Nathike, Athletics (800m)

Saeid Fazloula, Canoe (500m)

Sanda Aldass, Judo (-57kg)

Tachlowini Gabriyesos, Athletics (Marathon)

Wael Shueb, Karate (Kata)

Wessam Salamana, Boxing (-57kg)

Yusra Mardini, Swimming (100m butterfly and freestyle)

CONTACT: PR contact for XTR: [email protected]


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