A team of documentary makers including the man behind the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) have secured crowdfunding for a documentary on Paris-Roubaix that will follow Danish commentator Jorgen Leth – himself the maker of the 1976 film of the race, A Sunday In Hell, that is now regarded as one of the most iconic films ever made about cycling.
BFF founder Brendt Barbur had been looking to raise $27,000 for the project via Kickstarter by 5.10pm GMT on Friday 23 March, and passed that target sometime overnight following a concerted push being made by social media networks including Twitter to ensure that filming can happen around the day of the race, on Sunday 8 April.
The project’s page on Kickstarter gives the background to it, saying: “In 1976 Danish Filmmaker Jorgen Leth made the legendary sports and cycling film, A Sunday in Hell, about the Paris Roubaix cycling race. It defined a genre and helped put the Paris-Roubaix on the global sporting map. Leth now comments on the race for television.
“We plan to follow Leth as he prepares for and comments on the race. We’ll be with him from his hotel in Paris until the end of the race at the Roubaix Velodrome. Along the way our team of photographers and filmmakers will shoot footage of the race, crowds and Leth himself caught up in the excitement of sport. We’ll capture the intense effort of contemporary pro racers, and will be sure to include stars from cycling’s past.
“The Commentator will screen all over the world as part of the Bicycle Film Festival programming.”
As to why they’re making the film, the team, which includes Oscar-nominated documetary maker Albert Maysles as cinematographer, says: “We all have deep respect for Jorgen and are great fans of his work. We’ve had the idea for this film for a while, but have just this year decided to set things in motion to make it happen.
“Everyone on the crew has their own connection to Jorgen, some have worked with him others are friends and still others are great admirers of his work.
“A Sunday in Hell changed not just the way sports documentaries are filmed, but the very nature of sports coverage. It painstakingly documents the sometimes-brutal sport of cycling on one if its most historic and challenging courses.
“Leth essentially created a blueprint for cycling coverage that lives on to this day.
“We take inspiration from Leth’s work and hope to discover more about the grueling Paris-Roubaix.”
Various incentives are on offer for people to pledge certain amounts - $50 or more, for example, will get you either a portrait print of Mark Cavendish in the World Champion’s jersey by photographer Stefan Ruiz, who is also involved on the project, or a DVD of The Commentator once it is finished, as well as a book of the project.
We’re big fans of A Sunday In Hell here at road.cc, and we reckon a film about its maker set within the context of the modern race is well worth making.
You can still donate to the film here until 5.10pm GMT this afternoon.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.