Released on 26th August, the day the Paralympics were due to begin in Tokyo, was the inspiring Rising Phoenix.
The documentary shares the highs and lows of Paralympic champion’s early years and their professional sports careers. It’s an eye-opening watch and without the competition going ahead this year due to the Covid-9 pandemic, it’s the next best thing. Showcasing inspiring athletes from across the globe, Rising Phoenix aims to achieve amplify the Paralympics mission – “to challenge the stigma attached to disability, empower social transformation and make for a more inclusive society for all.” (https://www.paralympic.org/im-possible)
The programme focuses on the barriers that have been broken for these individuals as athletes and their ambition and hard work shines throughout the documentary. The feeling of freedom that each sport gives these individuals is paramount to their inspiring stories.
Anger Can Strike
When the athletes discuss their obstacles and frustrations, it’s an eye-opening reminder of how inaccessible the world is, which is why the Paralympics was established in the first place. The documentary goes on to expose certain downfalls the Paralympics has experienced, from underpromotion for Athens 2004 leading to empty stadiums and disheartened athletes, to funding earmarked for Rio 2016 instead being used for the Olympics. Going further back to 1980, Moscow refused to host the games stating they had no disabled citizens or wheelchair users in the country. Although these facts can lead to resentment from these specific hosts, it doesn’t override the impressive talent and determination these athletes have who have continued to compete through these circumstances.
A Powerful Message
The documentary includes footage from some of the athlete’s nail-biting wins showing thousands of spectators cheering for them. In these moments, they are celebrated for the achievements and hard work that got them there and their disabilities were forgotten about. It hopes to inspire the next generation who may already have dismissed their lives due to disability or not and ultimately that’s what the film is doing, but it also shows you that changing perceptions of disability is still an ongoing fight.
View the trailer below: