The Home of champions

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The Home of champions

original title:

The Home of champions

directed by:


Arap Mbishei, Haron Lagat, Joan Kosgei, Joseph Kamau Njuguna, Juliet Cherubet Mibei, Brother Colm O’connell, Gianni Demadonna, Mike Boit, Gabriele Rosa, John Rotich, Philaris Jepkemoi Yego, Lydia Areba Kwamboka, Gladys Chepngetich, Gladys Kiptoo, Jesca Chelangat, Sheila Kisang



Louis Hansen



Italy / Sweden



film run:





Ready (26/06/2024)

Anyone who knows anything about running knows that the world's strongest runners come mostly from Kenya, but few know that all these champions train in the same village, lost in the Kenyan hinterland, in Iten and the surrounding plateau.

“Welcome to Iten, Home of Champion”' reads the entrance gate to the small town.

Then there is the world of coaches and sponsors who establish a gruelling system, where competition is extreme: those who are lucky enough to have them, train and make it, those who do not, have no future and remain in poverty. Many young people, between the ages of 12 and 18, even start running barefoot.
But running in Kenya goes beyond mere sport. It is an integral part of the country's culture and history. Since ancient times, Kenyans have practised running as a means of hunting, communication and defence. Today, running has become an aspiration for thousands of young Kenyans who see their country's champions as an example to follow.
The roots of running in Africa lie in the arid wilderness, where the bare feet of young explorers cut paths through savannahs and forests. This spirit of endurance and determination is what characterises Kenyan runners, who train in the heights of Iten, breathing in the rarefied air and tackling the rugged inclines of the trails.
Iten's history is steeped in the legends of champions who grew up on the same dusty roads and hills that they now traverse with astonishing speed.
This is the place where sweat becomes glory and every step is a tribute to human strength and resilience.
But is it enough for runners to put on a pair of shoes to transform themselves into the supermen of running? The answer is complex and nuanced, as running in Kenya is more than just a sporting competition; it is an escape from poverty, a form of cultural expression and an opportunity to transform lives through discipline and sacrifice.
Director Francisco Grimaldi has found three answers:
- Poverty. The achievement of prosperity and tranquillity is the motor driving force that knows no equal.
- Community. This population knows no distractions, no entertainment, no cinemas, theatres, bookshops or live music. In Iten, people live in community, everyone helps their neighbour as if he was one of their own relatives.
- The heritage these people have acquired from their ancestors, who lived by hunting and running, gives them an incomparable inner strength and athletic ability that is unmatched in the world.
But director's vision is not only limited to the sporting sphere, the film puts the spotlight on a universal aspect: the female world of running.
The emancipation of women in Kenya is a unique phenomenon, made possible thanks to running and its role in society. Women have begun to break down the deep roots of an ancient patriarchal society through sport.
Successful female athletes in Kenya represent the future, culture, education.
Through the telling of the story of these female athletes, from their beginnings to their consecration in the Olympus of champions, we go through thirty years of Kenyan history, its culture, traditions, the sport that has made this country famous all over the world, and tells how solidarity is the key element of a unique reality.