The Challenge (Al tahaddi)

Yuri Ancarani

France, Italy, 2016 / 69 min / Arabic OV with French and English subtitles / Documentary

An extravagant weekend in the desert.

Falconry has a history that stretches back over 40 centuries. In the West, it was a prevailing passion of the medieval aristocracy, but its prestige continues undiminished in contemporary Arab culture. Three years of observing this form of hunting in the field have made it possible to capture the spirit of a tradition that today allows its practitioners to keep a close relationship with the desert, despite their predominantly urban lifestyle. Our guide to their world is a falconer taking his birds to compete in a tournament in Qatar. In the glaring light of an empty landscape the film recounts a strange kind of “desert weekend”, showcasing furtive microcosms marked by the flight of the falcons. 

Among SUVs, Lamborghinis, private jets and Mad Max-like dune bashing contests, the film tells the story of an intense weekend in the desert.

Organised by Casino Luxembourg - Forum d'Art Contemporain in partnership with the Luxembourg City Film Festival. Introduction and commentary by Emanuela Mazzonis, curator.


The screening of “The Challenge” is going to be preceded by Yuri Ancarani’s short “San Siro”.

“San Siro” functions as an epic experimental anatomy of a stadium, a humorous take on Milan’s mythic football temple. Ancarani makes his audience discover everything about Italy’s biggest football stadium except football! Cable men, labourers, policemen, stewards, gardeners, TV technicians and supporters are all part of an elaborate backstage choreography essential to the game. Playfully using sounds, shapes and light a hypnotic still life is drawn that conveys the powerful atmosphere of mass sport events.

Length: 26 minutes
Click here for "San Siro"'s trailer.

Mon 06/03 18:30 Ciné Utopia OV with FR & EN SUBT Public
  • Special Jury Prize Ciné+, 69th Locarno Film Festival 2016 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Khaled Al-Kaja, Nasser Al-Kaabi, Soul Riders Qatar, Khaled Al-Hammadi, Osama Yacoub
Yuri Ancarani
Yuri Ancarani, Luca Nervegna, Jonathan Ricquebourg
Mirco Mencacci
Lorenzo Senni, Francesco Fantini
La Bête
Ring Film, Atopic
Slingshot Films

Born in Ravenna in 1972, Yuri Ancarani is an Italian visual artist. In his work as a video artist and filmmaker, he is continuously mingling documentary cinema and contemporary art. His latest five short films have been shown and awarded in more than a hundred international festivals and in the most important museums of the world (Biennale Venice, Guggenheim Museum New York). “The Challenge” is his first feature documentary. 

  • 2016 - The Challenge (documentary)
  • 2014 - San Siro (documentary short)
  • 2012 - Da Vinci (documentary short)
  • 2011 - Piattaforma (documentary short)
  • 2010 - Il Capo ((documentary short)