In Greece for the StoryDoc documentary development workshop. I need an answer to this question - what is the film about? Other simple questions that have no answers. What happens in the film? Why should we care? What's new about it? Is it not enough to care about the life of one man?
The Runner is about resilience. The relentless pursuit of a dream, a goal, a height of achievement despite the circumstances so strongly against you. It is about this dream as a cure for the perpetual emptiness of statelessness. I approach my own statelessness through film - this can define my personal narrative and the identity that even I don't fully know. Salah approaches his statelessness through running. For that brief moment, when crowds cheer for him, when they wave the flag, he is a national hero. The hero of nation that doesn't exist. But this doesn't erase the pain of statelessness, so he must keep running.
Myth. Is myth the same as legend? Perhaps the word in Arabic, stura, means both.
The film is not a political story, or the suffering of a victim. These are only elements, vocabulary of the film. It is about this man's relationship to the land around him, his status as someone in exile. With no state, no citizenship. What better way to chase what is missing than by endlessly running? What better way to defy the borders of the occupier? Defiance. Saying I will represent myself as I choose, not as you want me to be. But he's not running away. He's not running towards. He's just running.
(My notes from Edinburgh: The pitch needs more character. It was too dry, too official, too precise. This film is emotional. Intuitive. Personal)
I need to spend some time with him, now, to create that connection and overcome any lasting rhetoric. I don't want rhetoric. We no longer have any need for the rhetorical. I need to stick my neck out more, this time.