Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
From zombie mutants to psychological terrors, click here to check out SWITCH's reviews from this year's Fantastic Film Festival!x
review, The Challenge, The, Challenge, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Yuri Ancarani, Documentary

THE CHALLENGE

★★

AN EPIC STRUGGLE AGAINST DROWSINESS

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
22nd September 2017

A man sits in his Lamborghini with a leopard on a leash in the passenger seat. A group of falconers sit in a tent in the middle of the desert, eating from a huge vat of rice and lamb with their hands. Multiple white SUVs race through the sand dunes.

Using striking images but no narration and little dialogue, Italian artist and filmmaker Yuri Ancarani’s first feature-length documentary ‘The Challenge’ doesn’t have any real contextualisation until about 15 minutes into its 70-minute running time.

Set in modern-day Qatar, the film documents the tradition of falconry on the Arabian Peninsula, where falcons can sell for up to $24k each to ultra-rich sheikhs for whom money is basically no object.

'THE CHALLENGE' TRAILER

With artfully composed, opulent visions of the Middle East (shot by Ancarani, Jonathan Ricquebourg, and Luca Nervegna) and a majestic, orchestral soundtrack by Lorenzo Senni and Francesco Fantini, the film unwinds slowly, with beautiful scenes of the desert and interesting peeks into the high-class, blinged-out culture of the Arabian falconers.

This documentary is all about juxtaposition: man and beast, technology and nature, wealth and simplicity. When the climactic falconry contest finally takes place, for example, we watch the competition through a giant TV screen set up in the middle of Qatar’s shifting sands, as the white-robed, all-male spectators sit on elaborate Persian carpets inside their tents playing incessantly with their mobile phones, intercut with footage taken from a camera placed on the bird itself.

Most scenes are long and dreamy, but they also tend to be repetitive and draaaag.

Unfortunately, as amazing as everything looks and sounds, ‘The Challenge’ is quite boring. Most scenes are long and dreamy, obviously paying tribute to the artistry of the film's subject, but they also tend to be repetitive and draaaag. There are no insights or commentary to be found: Ancarani never explains the official rules and protocols involved in falconry, nor do we ever see the servants who presumably prepared the event. A complete exercise in stylistic abstraction, the documentary often feels like a glossy, expensive promo video for, say, Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2018 collection.

With a great score and plenty of beautiful visuals to gawp at, ‘The Challenge’ may hold a hypnotic appeal for anyone keen to park up a pre-roll, bake a batch of edibles or bust out the vape pen. However, I suspect anyone watching this sober will be squirming in their seats before the titular event ever kicks off.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 9m
DIRECTOR: Yuri Ancarani
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Honeyland - Two-time Oscar-nominated film flies into Aussie cinemas
TRENDINGWIN HONEYLANDTwo-time Oscar-nominated film flies into Aussie cinemas
In My Blood It Runs - An eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
TRENDINGIN MY BLOOD IT RUNSAn eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
Guns Akimbo - Just like Harry Potter but with guns and more violence... not really
TRENDINGGUNS AKIMBOJust like Harry Potter but with guns and more violence... not really
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
A Guide to Second Date Sex - A quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
TRENDINGA GUIDE TO SECOND DATE SEXA quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
The Invisible Man - Paranoia, gaslighting and spookiness
TRENDINGTHE INVISIBLE MANParanoia, gaslighting and spookiness
Children of the Sea - Sunk by a soggy script
TRENDINGCHILDREN OF THE SEASunk by a soggy script
Happy Ending - An extra-wrinkly sex comedy
TRENDINGHAPPY ENDINGAn extra-wrinkly sex comedy
The Professor and the Madman - Mel Gibson's dictionary origin story a dry read
TRENDINGTHE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMANMel Gibson's dictionary origin story a dry read
Honey Boy - Shia LaBeouf turns his darkest times into an artistic masterpiece
TRENDINGHONEY BOYShia LaBeouf turns his darkest times into an artistic masterpiece
Fantastic Film Festival Australia 2020 - The reviews
TRENDINGFANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL AUSTRALIA 2020The reviews
Standing Up For Sunny - A comedy without the comedy but very sweet
TRENDINGSTANDING UP FOR SUNNYA comedy without the comedy but very sweet
Backtrack Boys - Heart-rending and inspiring
TRENDINGBACKTRACK BOYSHeart-rending and inspiring
Blue - A thought-provoking underwater journey
TRENDINGBLUEA thought-provoking underwater journey
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
Zombi Child - A subtle riff on the zombie genre
TRENDINGZOMBI CHILDA subtle riff on the zombie genre
Midsommar - Ari Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
TRENDINGMIDSOMMARAri Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
Richard Jewell - Man versus media
TRENDINGRICHARD JEWELLMan versus media
The Australian Dream - The conversation Australia needs to have
TRENDINGTHE AUSTRALIAN DREAMThe conversation Australia needs to have
School of Seduction - Husband hunting in Russia
TRENDINGSCHOOL OF SEDUCTIONHusband hunting in Russia
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us