We Dare to Dream – Tribeca 2023

We Dare to Dream. Courtesy of Tribeca.

We Dare to Dream puts the spotlight on the Refugee Olympic Team as they prepare to compete during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

We’re living through the worst refugee crisis in decades. People might think about the crisis as just being something that saw in the news. But for this film, it humanizes the Refugee Olympic Team athletes. It tells us their stories at a personal level. Who are they? Why did they leave?

What happens athletes leave their home countries and become refugees? What if they have hopes and dreams of becoming an Olympian some day? This is where the Refugee Olympic Team enters the picture. It offers these athletes an opportunity to train and compete in safety. An opportunity that might have no longer existed! In any event, this documentary follows refugees who left their home countries of Iran, Syria, South Sudan, and Cameroon as they prepare to live out their dreams. These athletes are also competing across a variety of sports. You never know–some of them might find their way to Paris in 2024.

People in America and other countries have it lucky with being able to train. This is not an understatement by any means. There is a privilege that comes with this opportunity. But what about refugees? How do they keep their hopes and dreams alive when they have nowhere to call home anymore? But even as they no longer have a home, there’s still a sense of resilience in them. In a way, this film is an inspiration for us all. It might be an inspiration in the same way that other films are but an inspiration nonetheless.

We Dare to Dream would have fit in quite well in the Olympic Channel’s Five Rings Films series. Unfortunately, the end of the Olympic Channel meant no more docs for the cable network. Perhaps NBC Sports could acquire the documentary for Peacock? It would almost certainly be a good fit for the programming on the road to Paris 2024. Are you listening, NBC? Regardless, the end of the Olympic Channel will not stop filmmakers from making documentaries about Olympians. These athletes might be coming from different backgrounds but we need to hear their personal stories. Hearing about their stories reminds me of some wise words from Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins:

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we learn to pick ourselves back up.”

This line is repeated by the Wayne family butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), later in the film. Films don’t repeat lines like this unless there is a deeper importance and meaning to them. You get a similar sense from watching the documentary. These athletes have fallen for one reason or another and they’ve got to get back on their feet. This doesn’t even begin to start with the challenges that Oscar-nominated filmmaker Waad al Kateab had to deal with as a filmmaker with making this film during a pandemic.

We Dare to Dream shows what it means to be facing adversity at one of the highest levels in sports.

DIRECTOR: Waad al Kateab
FEATURING: Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Cyrille Tchatchet II, Kimia Alizadeh, Saeid Fazloula, Wael Fawaz Al-Farraj

We Dare to Dream holds its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Spotlight Documentary section. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.