Bryan Fogel’s Sundance documentary “Icarus,” debuted to instant buzz and bidding, ultimately going to Netflix for $5 million, one of the largest buys ever for a nonfiction film.
Fogel explained that the film was inspired by Lance Armstrong’s evasion of doping detection and was originally meant to be a bit lighter in tone.
“I started out to kind of make a ‘Super Size Me’ doc, that I was gonna be a guinea pig and see whether or not the anti-doping system worked … In the process of doing this, I get put in touch with this guy, Grigory Rodchenkov.”
Rodchenkov, the director of the Anti-Doping Centre in Moscow and the man in charge of testing all of Russia’s athletes, agreed to help Fogel with his documentary. However, Fogel realized something wasn’t quite right.
“We’re Skyping back and forth, I go to Moscow, and all this time I’m going ‘Oh my God, I’ve got the scientist who’s Russia’s anti-doping lab, he should not be doing this, what am I going to do?'”
Soon after, an independent report alleges widespread doping among Russian athletes, with Rodchenkov at the center of it.
“A day after this report breaks, he’s resigned from the lab. He’s telling me, ‘I am the only man that can kill the Olympics, I’m the only man who can kill Russia, I’m the only man who can kill WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) … and they’re gonna kill me.'”
Fearing for his friend’s life, Fogel bought a ticket for Rodchenkov to flee to the U.S.
“At this point, we had a friendship,” the director said. “It wasn’t about being a filmmaker, it was this obligation that I felt that I had to try to save this guy’s life.”
Watch the full interview above.