614 Films, an Asheville-based film company, has begun work on their latest documentary Return of the Champions. The filmmakers are, once again, focusing their cameras on the Tarahumara – an indigenous people living deep in the rugged Copper Canyons of Mexico. 614 Films explored Tarahumara culture in their 2009 documentary Being the Diablo.
For centuries, the Tarahumara have lived in anonymity in one of the most remote regions in North America. It's been said they are the world's greatest runners. Author Christopher McDougall brought that mystique beyond the canyon walls with his hugely popular bestseller Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. The book highlights the Tarahumara's love of running and their ability to run hundreds of miles in nothing more than their traditional loincloth and sandals cobbled together from old tire treads and leather straps. Once a year they pit themselves against ultra-runners from around the world in the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon — a 50-mile race across trails and streams at the bottom of Urique Canyon.
614 Films is setting out to document on film this incredible foot race and the transformative power running has on its participants. The film crew will follow four former champions of the race. Arnulfo Quimare (2007 winner) is a Tarahumara who is a legend in the world of ultra marathons. Will Harlan (2009 winner) is an American runner from Asheville. His running with the Tarahumara dramatically changed his life. Beatriz Mendez (2011 women's winner) hails from Chihuahua, Mexico; for Beatriz, running is her only path out of grinding poverty. Miguel Lara (2011 winner) is a 20-year-old Tarahumara who shattered the course record last year despite temperatures that approached 100 degrees.
Director Rod Murphy notes, “We've been filming the Tarahumara and the Copper Canyons on and off for the past six years. This is a place where life thrives amid a harsh and beautiful landscape. The Tarahumara legend is inspiring people to take a closer look at a place that is under siege from the creep of modernity — loggers are plowing roads in for profit, and the narcos are fighting a turf war that now extends to even these remote canyons. This ultra marathon was designed to help the Tarahumara fight back the best way they know how. They are running for their lives.”
Also joining 614 Films as a producer will be Mickey Mahaffey — a WNC native who has lived among the Tarahumara for over ten years, and is one of the few outsiders who has been invited to participate in Tarahumara rituals and celebrations.
Get involved at http://www.614films.com.
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