About this project
STRETCH GOAL: If we reach $26,000 we can get a crew to film in South Sudan THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
WE'RE IN THE NEWS!
Guor's dream was to run in the Olympics.
Fourteen years ago Guor left Sudan. He had been kidnapped as a child and forced to do manual labor. He was eight years old. He just wanted to be with his parents.
He escaped but that wasn't the end of it. The years that followed for Guor would be lined with sadness. He was captured again. He experienced the death of eight siblings. It was civil war in Sudan.
Guor made it to New Hampshire and he put his head down and went to work. He went to high school and trained hard as a runner. He didn't know English, but he learned by joining the track team. He set a national high school record and received a scholarship to Iowa State. He earned All-American honors and then ran a qualifying time for the Olympics in his first ever marathon.
The International Olympic Committee said he needed to belong to a country to run in the Olympics. He needed papers.
Sudan, Guor's former country before South Sudan gained it's independence, offered Guor a spot. Inches a way from realizing his Olympic dream. Guor said no:
"Some things are more important than Olympic glory. If I ran for Sudan, I would be betraying my people. I would be dishonoring the two million people who died for our freedom. I want to bring honor to my country. People who just want glory, the spotlight of the Olympics, they don't care about other people. I'm fighting for independent status because I do care. When I run, I want people to see me and say, "He is from South Sudan."
A movement surrounded Guor. It was a David and Goliath-esque battle. The world responded. A California lawyer named Brad Poore stepped up. Organizations wrote letters and thousands signed an online petition. Guor was granted the honor of running, but he had to run without representing a country. He ran under the Olympic flag.
Guor is now a rising star on the marathon circuit. He wants to be among the first ever to officially represent South Sudan at the Olympics. Before that there is the Boston Marathon (on his 29th Birthday), the World Championships, and returning home to South Sudan for the first time in twenty years.
Guor sees his running as something larger than himself. He is a vessel of hope. He wants to inspire the people of South Sudan with every achievement. He wants to inspire refugees all over the world.
"It is a way of giving a person who has no hope, high hopes. A person who feels like they are left out, feel like they are included. If they can dream high and work hard..."
Now Guor has a goal: get South Sudan recognized by the world's governing body for athletics. That is his mission when he returns home, and if he succeeds he'll make history.
HOW RUNNER WITHOUT A COUNTRY GOT STARTED
Guor found out that that he was going to compete in the Olympics less then three and a half weeks before the Olympic Marathon. During this time, I read of Guor's story in an article and I immediately knew I had to talk with him. I just thought that this entire adventure needed to be documented in an artful way. Literally, one day no one had heard of Guor and the next the international press was lined up to greet Guor when he got off the plane in London.
It was in my first conversations with him that I immediately saw someone humble and charming. Filled with gratitude and grounded amid the press storm that surrounded him. When Guor spoke about his running it wasn't personal achievements he talked about, but rather the mission to raise hope and awareness for both his home country and refugees. I knew this was a great opportunity to show the incredible journey from refugee to elite athlete. I also knew it was a unique opportunity to show the behind the scenes politics of sport in a brand new nation. So without a budget, I boarded a plane to meet Guor in London.
-Bill Gallagher, director
Guor is beginning his exciting career as a marathon runner. His first elite marathon (outside of the Olympics) is in April at the Boston Marathon. And he has a small window of time after Boston and before the August Marathon World Championships in Moscow to go back to South Sudan and try to get the attention of the government to take the necessary steps so South Sudan- the world's newest country - can join the rest of the world in the International Association of Athletics Federations and legitimately compete in world athletic events. If South Sudan misses the deadline, Guor's next opportunity to compete for them in the championships won't be for another two years. This is a critical moment in Guor's story - and in the history of South Sudanese athletics. If we don't capture this on camera, we will miss a great opportunity.
Guor's desire to go to South Sudan is not all business of course. It is been twenty years since he has been back home and he cannot wait to see his family.
HOW THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT
Our filming journey is just beginning. We've filmed in London, Phoenix & New York. We need to get on planes, trains and automobiles; hire award winning camera men & women, stay at hotels, eat food, buy hard drives, repeat. This all gets expensive fast. Your support will make three main shoots happen:
1.The Boston Marathon. Guor will run in the elite group in Boston, and we are very excited about it. We hear there will be carloads of friends and family that are coming down from New Hampshire to see Guor run. It will be a homecoming of sorts.
2. New Hampshire. After Boston, we'll follow Guor back to New Hampshire where he went to high school, as he visits friends and family there. Here we will film interviews with Guor, friends and family.
3. South Sudan. Your support will get Guor on a plane to return home to South Sudan for the first time in twenty years and we'll give him a camera to film it all. It's going to be very special and you'll make this happen.
STRETCH GOAL: If we reach $26,000. We'll get a proper camera crew to be with Guor in South Sudan. We'll follow him as he meets with the politicians of the country to petition them in joining the sporting world community. We'll follow him as he reunites with his mother and father, and as he retraces the steps of his childhood. It will all be a very powerful experience, and we'd love to capture it with a crew.
We are grateful for your support.
If we reach our goal it will give us enough footage to get to the next phase of the project. We'll be able to take the film to pitch forums, grants, documentary funds, etc.
HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS
When you pledge your support, it is all or nothing. If we don't raise 100% of our goal by the deadline we get zero and your card doesn't get charged.
Thank You for considering joining the team.
NEW YORK TIMES by Mary Pilon
CHICAGO TRIBUNE by Philip Hersh
HUFFINGTON POST by Joshua Kors
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED by David Epstein
OUTSIDE MAGAZINE by Joe Spring
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Bill Gallagher was the Line Producer for the Academy Award nominated IF A TREE FALLS. Prior to that he worked on on Marshall Curry’s award-winning RACING DREAMS, which won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Both films were on the BBC and PBS and had a theatrical release. He completed his Graduate work at the Documentary Media Studies program at The New School, in New York City. In addition to working at NBC’s Washington Bureau and at Harvard Business School Publishing, Bill has also lectured on documentary production at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Runner Without a Country is his first film as director.
Risks and challenges
Runner WIthout a Country faces the usual risks of documentary filmmaking, the fun and anxiety of this is we are not exactly sure what is going to happen. Our delivery dates are estimates and our shooting schedule is subject to change. In terms of being able to shoot quality material, we are offsetting the risks of what can happen in the future with the incredible past events that have happened. In other words, if we were to only cover past events in the film we think we'd have something great. But there is much more story to tell and we'll keep at it!
Travel is another risk. South Sudan is not the easiest place to film but we'll be working with local crew and security with lots of experience in the area.
I’ll be sending updates about our progress to backers, so you’ll be in the know about what’s going on.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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