Run for life

Read the background on the film below...

English version (narrated by Rachel Gordy)

Version française - original French version with English subtitles (narration par Natacha Lindinger)

The idea for the documentary Run for life (original French title: Une année de sable) was born in 2005, after a friend of mine, Cyril Himmer, asked me to return with him to the Marathon des Sables, since I had successfully completed the event in 2000 and 2001 (see race reviews). I had founded a film production company in Geneva, Switzerland, a year earlier and I was immediately interested in doing a film about living with cancer. My father died of prostate cancer in March 2003 but had never shared what it was like living with the disease. And I never dared ask him.

In September 2005 I met Clara Klaar, who had battled with acute myeloid leukemia, and survived after a year of chemotherapy, radiation and a miraculous bone marrow transplant. The idea was for Clara to accompany me to the desert (her doctor had told that battling leukemia was like "a long walk through a desert storm") and, over the course of the seven-day race, we would - together - explore what it means to live with cancer.

We left early April 2006... But the harsh weather - high relative humidity and constant sandstorms - almost got the better of us. We lost one camera, and two-thirds of our dailies were useless. A new project emerged, one that we felt would be a more powerful, more lasting film. The images of suffering, fear, endurance, hope against the odds, and finally victory would serve as a metaphoric backdrop to Clara Klaar's emotional and initiatory account of her year with cancer.

The intention is not to suggest that the pain and suffering of those who choose - voluntarily - to compete in the Marathon des Sables is in any way comparable to what a cancer patient must endure in terms of anxiety, pain or fear of death. At the very least, runners at the MDS can decide at any time to quit the race and continue their lives as before. Cancer patients cannot do so.

Run for life does, however, relate the emotional experience of living with cancer. It is an ode to courage, hope, and the ability to harness unsuspected strength to overcome extraordinary odds.
The film was selected to open Reel Lives: The Cancer Chronicles, the first international documentary film competition on cancer organized by the International Union Against Cancer.
The film was produced by Xavier Derigo (IDIP Films).

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