The first trailer for Icarus, Netflix’s documentary on Russian sports doping, couldn’t have been released by the streaming provider at a better time. President Trump just finished meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the question of Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election is among the top news headlines each day.
A more funny coincidence is that the Icarus trailer was released just before the premiere of HBO’s sports mockumentary, Tour de Pharmacy, about rampant doping among cyclists at the 1982 Tour de France. Maybe the timing wasn’t incidental there. This is the far more serious, real-world counterpart to Tour de Pharmacy‘s spoof of sports and doping scandals. (You could make yourself quite a double-feature between the two films, though.)
Icarus made headlines earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival for landing one of the largest acquisition deals ever given to a non-fiction film. Netflix paid $5 million for the rights to the documentary, which will premiere Aug. 4 on the streaming outlet. Here is the film’s trailer:
One of the intriguing aspects of Icarus‘ production is that it started out as sort of a self-experiment type of documentary, similar to 2004’s Super Size Me. Director Bryan Fogel, an amateur cyclist, initially planned on showing what sorts of effects taking PEDs would have on his endurance. Among the people he interviewed for the film was Russian scientist Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. But Rodchenkov had far more compelling information to reveal than what benefits those drugs had on athletes.
Rodchenkov was also the man behind Russia’s supposed “anti-doping” initiative that was a cover for a comprehensive and far-reaching doping program that scandalized Olympics sports leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
Suddenly, Fogel’s film became far bigger than a somewhat personal documentary about the effects of doping on amateur athletes. By talking to Rodchenkov, the director now had access to a source who revealed a great deal about Russia’s doping program, how large of a role the government played in the initiative, and the measures taken to silence those who could possibly expose the level of cheating in which Russia was engaged. As you can see in the trailer, there is virtually no mention of Fogel’s original story at all. It’s all about Russia’s sports doping scandal and its potential effects on all athletic competition.
Icarus premieres on Netflix on Aug. 4.