Stylistically brilliant. [A] fascinating insight into the high-class, blinged-out culture of Arabian falconers.


The Challenge

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Italian visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s exquisite documentary enters the surreal world of wealthy Qatari sheikhs with a passion for amateur falconry. The opulence of this Middle Eastern gas state is on full display as the men race SUVs up and down sand dunes, fly their prized falcons around on private jets, and take their pet cheetahs out for desert spins in their souped-up Ferraris. The result is a film jaw-dropping not only for its displays of wealth, but for the pure cinematic beauty that won Ancarani the Filmmaker of the Present award at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival.

"Ravishing. Despite all the feathery swooping and gunning motors, the flashing gold and pounding sun, these immaculately framed, balanced and photographed images have a tableaulike quality, characterized by a stillness (perhaps cultural or situational) that suggests a memento mori." – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

"There’s an exquisite visual luxury at play in this loose trip across the Arabian gulf to a falconry competition in Qatar." – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

"This is, needless to say, an original film. It is also wildly delightful." – Calum Marsh, Village Voice

“Exuberant. Contemporary tropes of material luxury and ancient rituals coexist throughout Yuri Ancarani’s documentary.” – Diego Semerene, Slant

Not Rated
Documentary, Culture Vulture
Yuri Ancarani
Violet Lucca, Film Comment Magazine

Much of the history of art is also a history of wealth, and the degree to which you value artists’ ability to slip commentary about the ruling class into their commissions will determine your interest in 'The Challenge.' In this film comprised of lengthy, largely wordless shots of Arab falconers at ...

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