THE SECRET MARATHON: If you want inspiration you can’t do a lot better than this film. It’s small and plain, but most encouraging. It starts with a problem far away: Women in Afghanistan were, maybe still are, barred from sports like marathon running. An international organization persuaded one to run in one five years ago, the Guardian newspaper reported it, and in Alberta, runner Martin Parnell read about it and was moved to action. He went and ran there the following year, brought a camera crew and directors Kate McKenzie and Scott Townend and filmed another run and several women who dared to compete. Their numbers have been growing every year.
The film tells their stories. The original woman, Zainab, had suffered so much backlash and so many threats that she wouldn’t appear on camera, or even let her full name be used. She’s heard though, through an actor’s voice and shown in animated sequences, telling of the ordeal and the need she feels. She and other women talk of “real freedom.” As one says: “If I run hard enough, the negative voice stops.” The film echoes that. Enough with the negative stories, it says. Ordinary life goes on there, too. A visit to a family living in a cave is an exception, but overall, this is a positive visit. The film has been at festivals and at various times through Sunday will be available to stream in five provinces and five countries. 3 out of 5