The evening was not unusual. Just a screening of a documentary, Icarus, for a roomful of leading documentarians: Academy Award winning ones like Alex Gibney and Barbara Kopple among many others, for purposes of Oscar nominations. The unusual part was having Lance Armstrong participate in the post-screening panel at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. The movie, Netflix’s powerful expose of doping among Olympian athletes, directed by Bryan Fogel and produced by Dan Cogan shines a light on Lance Armstrong’s scandalous use of drugs during his stellar award-laden cycling career. You would think he would shy away, ashamed. But the film’s main protagonist, a Russian scientist namedGrigory Rodchenkov, now in hiding as the Russians have called for his execution, was the real focus of attention. A whistleblower, Rodchenkov created the testing for steroids, as well as a method to defy the testing for them. He was willing to talk to Bryan Fogel about state sponsored doping.
Another focus of the conversation, led by Philip Gourevitch, is the push to stop a corrupt system. Yes, Russia was famously banned from the 2018 games in Korea, but as Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s lawyer predicted, their athletes will be able to compete under another banner. They will have a presence. The Russia story is larger than the International Olympics Committee. As we now examine further Russia’s involvement in our elections, Icarus offers an unprecedented glimpse into the larger geopolitics, illuminating the lengths to which they would go. And, unbelievably, Icarus on Netflix is seen in Russia.
Bryan Fogel will receive the Hell Yeah Prize at this year’s Cinema Eye Honors Lunch. The Hell Yeah Prize was created to celebrate those unique moments in non-fiction where the very act of filming leads to a monumental, conclusive consequence, such as the IOC’s decision to bar the Russian team from the 2018 Olympic Games.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central