The Challenge


Italian visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s beautiful and bizarre documentary takes us inside the rarefied world of Middle Eastern falconry. Here, the sport attracts passionate devotees from the Qatari hyper-rich who compete at auction for the best birds, drive deep into the desert to train their charges, and then assemble in Mad Max-style stadiums for spectacular tournaments.

“Stylistically brilliant. A fascinating insight into the high-class, blinged-out culture of Arabian falconers.”– Clare Roth, Vox

Shot in stark observational style and with a soaring orchestral score, the film revels in the brilliant colors of the desert, filling the screen with eye-popping visuals. Beyond the landscape there is the surreal spectacle of the bizarre lifestyle of the film’s extravagantly wealthy subjects, including a cheetah riding in the passenger seat of a Lamborghini, falcons flying in luxury aboard private jets, and a gold-plated Harley Davidson. The result is jaw-dropping, visually striking film that slyly comments on the surreal levels of conspicuous consumption and opulence embraced by its subjects. (Dir. by Yuri Ancarani, 2016, France/Italy, in Arabic with English subtitles, 70 mins., Not Rated)

Other Festival Appearances: Hot Docs; Locarno; San Francisco

Winner: Filmmaker of the Present Award, Locarno Film Festival