20th April 2016
Olympic athletes are ordinarily plastered across commercials, cereal boxes and lucrative endorsement deals, but not all of them. Some are from countries with less recognisable names, however their other-worldly talent is still recognisable. In the lead up to the Rio Summer Olympics in August, many athlete's training will go unnoticed, with no sponsorship deals and no adoring public. But for Academy Award Winning director Morgan Neville it's a story worth shining a light on.
In partnership with Samsung, Neville sets out to share the incredible stories of these athletes with his new documentary A Fighting Chance. Set to be released this month, the trailer for the film debuted at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas in March far away from the subjects of his inspiring tale.
Funded by Samsung, this project has been a labour of love for Neville, which saw him travel to locations in South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Vanuatu. The documentary focuses on Vanuatu's Beach Volleyball Golden Girls and tells the untold stories of these inspiring Olympic hopefuls on their quest to overcome the obstacles and remarkable odds to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
In the emotive documentary, viewers are exposed to the unexplored worlds of the athletes, who were given Samsung Galaxy phones and Gear S2 smart watches from 20 year worldwide Olympic sponsor Samsung. For the athletes who get little support from their own countries and general population let alone the world sporting community, it was like Christmas.
Shooting the documentary of a series of weeks, Neville faced some challenges including the fact that the profiled athletes, volleyball players LinLine Matauatu and Miller Pata did not speak English and had never been in the spotlight. Having never been interviewed before, the athletes took some time to open to him but when they finally did, the results are eye-opening.
The documentary was a license to go anywhere for director Morgan Neville, who managed to capture some of the location's beauty as both an incidental and as an element that shapes the lives of these athletes for whom sport is a means of survival.