This August, the World Athletics Championships start in London – and on the same day, Netflix is releasing a film that will make you stop believing them entirely.
Icarus, the streaming giant’s latest original documentary, is a eye-opening, mind-boggling dive into the murky waters of doping and drug abuse within professional sports. The film follows director Bryan Fogel as he sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports by demonstrating how easy it is to dope and win cycling races undetected. A chance meeting with a Russian scientist later and his story has transformed from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death, and Olympic gold medals, exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.
Icarus won the Orwell Award at the Sundance Film festival and the inaugural Audience Award at the Sundance London Festival this year.
“Given three months by Netflix to tighten and tweak following its Sundance premiere, there’s a sense that things can’t be compacted more than they have been,” we wrote in our review from the latter. “And, in its final form, Icarus’ glossy titles, effective use of music and sheer access to a bombardment of eye-opening facts makes for compelling, endlessly surprising viewing.”
The film will premiere on Netflix on Friday 4th August, the same day the World Athletics Championships kick off.
Here’s a trailer – read on below for the official poster, plus information on what was changed in Fogel’s Netflix-backed edit.
Icarus wins Sundance London Audience Award, following Netflix updates
5th June 2017
Netflix’s Icarus has won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance London festival, just days after finishing a new edit of the film.
The inaugural Audience Favourite award was voted for by festivalgoers in the thousands for their favourite of 14 features across the four-day event at Picturehouse Central this weekend. In attendance were filmmakers from a host of new indie titles that debuted at Sundance in Utah at the start of the year. Among them were several Netflix and Amazon originals, including The Big Sick, Crown Heights, The Incredible Jessica James and Chasing Coral.
Netflix’s documentary, Icarus, though, was the one that won viewers’ love the most, following another win at Sundance in Utah, where it received the US Documentary Special Jury Award: The Orwell Award.
Bryan Fogel’s film sees the director set out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, only for a chance meeting with a Russian scientist to transform his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death, and Olympic Gold – exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.
The version screening at the London event was different to the cut that first premiered in January. After Netflix bought the rights to the film for $5 million, Bryan Fogel, who was present at the movie’s London premiere, explained that the streaming giant helped to rework the film.
“We sat and they said we think there’s a better film here and I agreed,” he explained. “So we got out of Sundance and Netflix gave me and my team basically the last 3.5 months to continue to work on this film, so the movie you’ll see today is the final film that will premiere in August. It’s been an amazing process for me.”
“I think this is a more fully realised film than what we had at Sundance Utah,” he continued. “And the reason for that is time. And also the amazing support of Netflix, which for me has been a filmmaker’s dream. They were incredible. They never once got involved in the editing room. They knew there was a better version of the movie there. They empowered me with resources, financially, to be able to continue to work on the film, from the opening titles and the end titles that were done by the same company that does Game of Thrones and The Crown… they saw a better film and I had the time to make it.”
What’s different? “Everything, the core, is still the same, it’s just been refined. The graphics and visual beauty of it, having more time to work on the sound mix and the edit and just make it a more coherent, cohesive film.”
The new version of the film was only finished a week ago, just in time for the film’s international premiere in the UK. Picturehouse Central will now host a repeat screening of the film on Friday 9th June, with the movie going on to screen at Sheffield DocFest next weekend.
Netflix will release Icarus worldwide in August 2017.