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We Dare to Dream magazine – powerful study of refugee athletes and their Olympic team | Movie

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Tthere’s nothing Waad Al-Kateab – the citizen journalist turned Oscar-nominated director of For Sama – needs to do to make her latest documentary more touching. The resilience and strength of character of the athletes she films competing for the Refugee Team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics touches your heart and gives it a good twist. The team was first introduced at the 2016 Rio Games in response to the refugee crisis and offers athletes a scholarship to pay for their living expenses and training – as well as a flag to compete under.

And what a team they are. Kimia Alizadeh Zonoozi was 18 when she became the first Iranian woman to medal at the Summer Olympics, winning a bronze medal in taekwondo in Rio. But she couldn’t bear to continue repeating the propaganda that the state had ordered her to spread: that men and women are equal in Iran, that black people are white. She now lives in Germany. Incredibly, her first opponent in Tokyo is her best friend and former teammate, Iranian Nahid Kiani Chandeh.

Then there’s Cyrille Tchatchet, a mild-mannered weightlifter (with thighs the girth of a century-old oak tree). Cyrille left the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, fearing for his safety at home in Cameroon. He spent two months rough sleeping in Brighton and was standing on the edge of a cliff contemplating suicide when he spotted a Samaritans poster and called. Two police cars arrived and reported him. We also meet Saeid Fazloula, a canoeist from Iran, taekwondo athlete and Syrian refugee Wael Fawaz Al-Farraj and South Sudanese runner Anjelina Nadai Lohalith. They have all experienced trauma on a scale few of us can imagine, their training disrupted, yet they have reached the pinnacle of elite sport.

The film is a powerful antidote to the narrative that refugees are nothing more than a drain on resources. Take Cyrille, who trained as a mental health nurse after being granted asylum in the UK. “I felt like I had to give something back to my community,” he says. At the opening ceremony in Tokyo, he shared the honor of carrying the Olympic flag with other athletes who had served their countries during the pandemic. What a hero.

We Dare to Dream is released on December 1 in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.

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