Rising Phoenix is, at face level, a fairly straightforward documentary concept – a deep dive into the Paralympics and the people who help make it happen. But the documentary takes this simple concept and runs with it in a number of different directions, offering a comprehensive view of the past, present and future of the games from a variety of unique perspectives.
The Paralympians are of course front and centre in this film, and Rising Phoenix gives each individual story the weight and polish it deserves. Tales of tragedy and triumph are represented masterfully here, with gorgeous set pieces and powerful sound design, and each athlete is given the space to tell their individual narrative in a way that is inspiring without being voyeuristic (as can sometimes be the case with this kind of story).
Rising Phoenix also takes some time to explore the sociological side of the Paralympics, from its genesis in 1948 through the efforts of Sir Ludwig Guttmann to the massive international event it is today. The documentary explores the effects of the games across a number of interesting social axes, highlighting the importance of the Paralympics in overcoming the stigma of disability as well as the cultural impact the games have on the countries that host it. It’s a side that is as important to the narrative of the Paralympics as the games themselves, and Rising Phoenix does an excellent job in marrying the stories of past and present to create a multifaceted image of the Paralympics.
Rising Phoenix is a bombastic, powerful tribute to an important international institution, giving the story of the Paralympics the depth and complexity an event of its magnitude deserves. It’s a very intense watch, and at just under two hours it’s a long one, but it’s deeply fascinating and as inspiring as the games themselves are.
Rising Phoenix is released digitally on demand on 26th August 2020.
Watch the trailer for Rising Phoenix here: