The 1980’s was the decade of crusading athletes, firing up the torch of Canada’s pride as everyone watched three shining beacons of hope unite the country, one kilometre at a time.
First, Terry Fox turned personal tragedy into triumph, and then back into tragedy, with his 1980 “Marathon of Hope.” That was followed by Steve Fonyo’s coast-to-coast 1984/85 “Journey for Lives” that kept the spirit alive. Then came Rick Hansen and his 1985 “Man in Motion” World Tour — bigger, longer and better managed than any that had gone before.
Three decades later, we are left with an inspiring memory, a tarnished hero, and a thriving charitable foundation.
The stories of Fox and Hansen have been told and retold with no detail left unpolished. Steve Fonyo is different. He is the discredited hero who kinder souls refer to as the “Canadian Icarus.”
Other characterizations are equally vivid, but far less charitable.
His step-by-step fall from national grace has been widely documented in the news with all the charm of a police report.
But the decline ironically started much earlier, back before his first run.
At that time he was a burgeoning national hero who needed to be protected from his own bad publicity. But fall, he did, publicly and personally, and that is not the substance of HURT.
Event reportage is not what writer/director Alan Zweig does in his documentaries.
This is portraiture. This is Steve Fonyo, now, having simmered for three decades in the wastes of his accomplishments, while continuously confronted with the cultural immortality of Terry Fox, who still, even though he died at the age of 23, generates his own pattern of economics.
HURT is significant because it showcases resilience, not only the kind that kept an 18-year-old cancer survivor running the equivalent of a half marathon a day for 400 days for 7924 km., but also kept him from sinking beneath the waves through a coke addiction, excessive drinking, surviving East Hastings, numerous stints in jail, having his prosthetic leg stolen, and being beaten and stabbed multiple times.
Steve Fonyo takes Nietzsche’s ‘what doesn’t kill me’ to an entirely new level.
Word Premiere: TIFF.40 Platform
Director: Alan Zweig
Country of Production: Canada
Runtime: 84 minutes
Production Company: MDF Productions Inc.
Executive Producer: Peter Gentile
Producer: Peter Gentile
Screenplay: Alan Zweig
Cinematographers: Ian Kerr (CSC), Jonathon Cliff (CSC), Chris Romeike
Editor: Robert Swartz
Sound: Michael Lalonde
Music: Ohad Benchetrit, Justin Small
Principal Cast: Steve Fonyo