Coming to theatres and to VOD today, Friday, July 15: FREE TO RUN
Pierre Morath’s look at the origins of modern-day running for sport debuted in Swiss theatres this past February. Festival berths have included BAFICI, Docs Against Gravity, Sydney, and the upcoming New Zealand fest, among others.
Morath pays tribute to running and to its relatively short history of popular acceptance in this broad and informative look at the sport. Returning to a time just five decades prior, the film considers street running in its relative infancy, viewed by the general public as a lark practiced by a handful of misfits. Even as advocates emerged, from the New York Road Runners Club which developed what eventually became the mammoth New York City Marathon, to the pioneering Swiss running magazine Spiridon, resistance continued – from governing athletics bodies to popular opinion which barred women from competing or set strict distance limits. Morath admirably tries to take on these and other wide ranging issues impacting the sport’s development – including rules preventing runners from being paid, the commercialization of the sport, the growing elitism of what should be an inherently populist activity, and the controversies around the post-Hurricane Sandy NYC Marathon – which inevitably results in some cursory treatment. Still, as a popular cultural history, the project generally succeeds more than it stumbles, offering a love letter to the sport for its adherents and a diverting bit of sports background for the more casual viewer.