For competitive athletes - particularly those who hail from the most impoverished regions - the road to Olympic glory is paved with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But every four years, hopefuls from around the world set out to overcome these odds in search of a gold medal. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) profiles three such athletes in the rousing documentary A Fighting Chance.
These warriors fight for more than just personal gain and the satisfaction of accomplishment. An Olympic victory would change the lives of their family members, and elevate the spirit and morale of their entire nation. With unquenchable determination, they endure many years of strenuous training, psychological struggles and devastating setbacks in an effort to represent the best in all of us.
The film follows each of its subjects as they endure a grueling path to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. They don't have sponsors or a well-funded campaign of support behind them. Instead, they are carried forward by the love of their families, the hopes of their communities and an inner drive to exceed the limits of their potential.
In the island nation of Vanuatu, nestled in the vastness of the South Pacific Ocean, a group of young women find their calling in the space across a volleyball net. They travel from London to Seoul in the run-up to the ultimate event. For many, it's their first time leaving home. Nearly 9,000 miles away in the Dominican Republic, another athlete expresses her aspirations in a boxing ring, and hopes to become the first female to win an Olympic medal in her chosen sport. She places her life on hold in order to compete, including her desires to have a family of her own. In the country of Lesotho, a close neighbor to South Africa, a marathon runner leaves everything he has on the track, and works to build his family a home with his competitive winnings.
Sports infuse each of them with a sense of purpose, and represent a pathway to a better life. By investing in the deeply personal journeys of these athletes, A Fighting Chance reminds us of the purity and power of a dream.