Timed with World Refugee Day – Saturday, June 20, director Bill Gallagher’s award-winning documentary ‘Runner‘ will have its virtual cinema release starting Friday, June 19. Runner follows the incredible story of Guor Marial the South Sudanese Lost Boy who survived slavery and a brutal war that took 8 of his 9 siblings to become an Olympic athlete.
Runner was the Opening Night Film of Woods Hole Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award, and went on to win multiple awards at other film festivals including the Audience Award, Best Documentary Jury Prize – Naples International Film Festival; Audience Award, Best New England Filmmaker – Newburyport Documentary Film Festival; Best Feature Film – Lone Star Film Festival and Best Documentary – Fairhope Film Festival.
When he was only eight, Guor Mading Maker (formerly known as Guor Marial) ran from capture in war-torn Sudan to eventually seek safety in the US. In his new life, Maker began running again, participating in high school track and field and eventually becoming a sensation and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. But because the newly formed South Sudan was not recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Maker had to fight to compete independently, refusing to run for Sudan and taking a stand against its oppression.
Runner depicts Maker’s difficult and triumphant journey from refugee to world-renowned athlete, told in intimate interviews with gorgeously animated flashbacks of Guor’s upbringing and culminating in a heart-wrenching reunion with his parents after a 20-year separation. His story is a distinctly inspirational one in which the indomitable human spirit emerges against all odds.
Who is Guor Maker?
• Qualified for the Olympics in his first ever marathon
• Competed in the 2012 London Olympics as an Independent Olympic Athlete
• He competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of the first ever team from South Sudan, where he was the flagbearer for his country.
• Now attempting to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics for Team USA
• Guor joined the United States Air Force in 2017 because he wanted to “give back” to the United States:
• Attended high school in Concord, New Hampshire
• Received a full running scholarship to Iowa State where he ran to All-American honors
“Runner is about the ability to hope and the capacity to thrive even after enduring the most oppressive circumstances. It’s about letting the pain of our past propel us into turning negative circumstances into something positive. The film’s protagonist, Guor Maker, is a refugee who endured unimaginable suffering, yet he willed himself into becoming an Olympian and used that platform to help inspire others. Hope is what we need right now and I couldn’t be happier to share this film with the world at this moment.” – Bill Gallagher, director of Runner.