I attended a screening of a documentary called ICARUS at the Bijou theatre with a post-Q&A with the cinematographer, Jake Swantko. The documentary starts off with Bryan Fogel conducting an investigation on illegal doping in sports today. He’s referenced to the former director of Russia’s national doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov. Rodchenkov was a student-athlete and ran long-distance in track, and he doped during his time as an athlete, he even went on to state that even his own mother would help inject the drugs into him. Rodchenkov sets up a doping plan for Fogel to take performance-enhancing drugs that will bypass drug tests, to prove that modern testing isn’t sufficient enough when it comes to anti-doping. As Fogel continued his doping plan, Rodchenkov disclosed Russia’s secret state-sponsored doping program that he is in charge of. Rodchenkov flew to LA because he was afraid of dying from a “heart attack” when in actuality it would have been because of an assassination. The two of them brought the information of Russia’s state-sponsored doping practices to the attention of the U.S Department of Justice, and The New York Times saying Russia has been doping their athletes and cheating in the Olympics for years. They explain the convoluted, yet very impressive, way of obtaining and replacing the dirty urine for the clean urine at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. ICARUS is an amazing documentary that I highly recommend everybody should watch because it really goes to show, just how much the world loves sports. The movie shifts the main focus from Bryan Fogel to the origin of Grigory Rodchenkov and his redemption.
Post-Q&A with cinematographer; Jake Swantko
Once the documentary had ended, its cinematographer who is also an alumnus University of Oregon, Jake Swantkos, conducted a 30 minute Q&A. He explained how certain shots were taken such as the scenes during the bike race. He told us that while he was filming the bike shots he was sitting on the back of a motorcycle (sometimes in the pouring rain) he had a special waterproof camera (I can’t recall the name of it) with a special attachment on it that would allow for him to turn the camera to the side without turning his entire body and becoming unbalanced. He spoke to us about his relationship with Grigory, and told us that they have continued to work with his lawyer to ensure his safety, even though he is under the witness protection for fear of being killed by Putin’s goons. Unfortunately, it’s believed that Russian agents are targeting Rodchenkov and may be close to finding him.
I personally really enjoyed this screening, especially the Q&A afterward. I had already seen this documentary about a month ago but that was at 5AM after 24 hours of watching documentaries back to back. So rewatching this with a fresh pair of eyes and seeing it on a big screen, along with being able to meet the cinematographer afterward was a plus. Overall I loved doing this assignment, and highly recommend that all of you watch it, by far my favorite documentary.