Building peace through sport: Film Tatami and the values ​​that unite

In 2015, the UN announced the creation of a team for refugee athletes in the Olympic Games: they are athletes who have fled their countries ruled by dictatorships. Today, the value of this team is represented by a new film: Tatami. Winner of Brian Award in Venice and up the hill to cash register, opens up new scenarios for spectators and athletes from all over the world.

A team of refugee Olympic athletes

Tatami means “mat” in Japanese and is the name of the platform where martial arts are fought. Based on a true story (male), the film tells the story of an Iranian judoka who rebels against the Islamic regime, which forces her to feign injury and withdraw from the competition to avoid facing her Israeli rival, an “occupying country”. “. A story common to many international athletes who were forced to give up an Olympic victory because of the political decisions of their dictatorial countries.

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Despite being threatened, Leila Hosseini continues to fight, even though she knows that once she returns to Iran, she will face prison for treason. Since the athlete cannot fight the Islamic dictatorship alone, he asks the International Olympic Federation for help. Leila is aware that she will no longer be able to compete by representing her country, Iran, but will become a part of A team of Olympic athletes for refugees he will be able to continue his dream of winning a gold medal.

A refuge for those fleeing their country

The right to asylum (Asylum), according to which a person persecuted in his own country requests protection from a foreign state, dates back to ancient times. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Jews (as we read in the Old Testament) already offered welcome, protection and immunity to foreigners persecuted for political opinions or religious beliefs (Plutarch speaks of ‘God’s asylum’). In 511 AD, the Christian Church established the “Principle of Asylum” to protect those who took refuge in churches. Even in the Koran it is stated that the right of asylum is granted by Allah and in Mecca there is Al-Masjid al-Haram, a mosque-refuge for every Muslim.

In 1950, the United Nations established the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an agency specialized in the international protection of the rights of refugees. until the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil awareness of the global crisis of politically persecuted athletes, A refugee Olympic team of athletes is established for the first time. The Rio Olympics featured ten athletes from 4 different countries competing in a variety of disciplines, from athletics to swimming, six men and four women. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, 29 refugee athletes competed in 12 disciplines and from 11 countries.

Tatami: a film about sporting loyalty and political disloyalty

Iran and Israel are two states at war, but when two champions, one Iranian and the other Israeli, meet to challenge each other to judo, the political struggle where the opponent must be destroyed will not be won. Both athletes know that true courage lies in following the rules of the sport and respecting the opponent. It is neither pretense nor arrogance, but the correctness, the legality of the rules of those who honor the values ​​of loyalty.

The film Tatami is a sports and political film. The repression in Iran goes so far as to prevent athletes from competing on a sports platform, because the real field of battle is political. What makes the film very relevant at this time of rising tensions between Iran and Israel is the fact that it was shot with co-directed by an Israeli director and an Iranian director: for the first time to this collaboration. Both directors stated that their film wanted to demonstrate how sports and cinema can be a tool to develop peace between two nations at war. Do not miss!

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