2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: ICARUS

Bryan Fogel exposes a complex doping operation at the heart of Russia’s Olympics program.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

The ruthless worlds of international sports and politics rarely collide as spectacularly on screen as they do in Bryan Fogel’s thriller that is sure to set off convulsions of controversy.

While investigating the furtive world of illegal doping in sports, Fogel connects with renegade Russian scientist Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov – a pillar of his country’s “anti-doping” program. Over dozens of Skype calls, urine samples, and badly administered hormone injections, Fogel and Rodchenkov grow closer despite shocking allegations that place Rodchenkov at the center of Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program. When the truth is more complex than imagined, and accusations of illegalities run to Russia’s highest chains of command, the two realize they hold the power to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in living memory.

Exemplifying the special bond between filmmaker and subject, this is a vital portrait of the sacrifice some people will make to stand up for truth. ICARUS places you at the heart of an international game of cat and mouse, where a miscalculation can cost you your life.

Some Background:

  • Bryan Fogel
    This is Fogel’s documentary debut. He previously wrote and executive produced the film adaptation of his long-running stage comedy, JEWTOPIA.



Executive Producers:

  • Timothy Rode
    This film marks Rode’s Sundance debut after a background in reality TV and commercial clients. In addition to his executive producer role, he is also one of the doc’s editors.

  • Maiken Baird
    Baird is also an executive producer on CITY OF GHOSTS. She previously produced CLIENT 9 and directed VENUS AND SERENA.

  • Teddy Leifer
    Past Sundance docs:

    KNUCKLE (2011)
    ROUGH AUNTIES (2009, World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize)

    Leifer is the founder and managing director of London-based Rise Films, and a two-time Emmy winner.

  • Craig Sims
    This is Sims’ first Sundance credit.


Additional Editors:

  • Sally Volkmann, Hegine Nazarian, John Stobaugh
    Volkmann previously served as an assistant editor on THE HUNTING GROUND.

Why You Should Watch:
As demonstrated in his gripping documentary debut, Fogel plays a critical personal role in the unfolding scandal of Russian doping which has generated international headlines, led to bans on athletes’ participation in competitions, and stripped winners of their medals.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.


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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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