Zola Budd and Mary Decker to reunite in The Fall

1984 Olympic runners are to be reunited for Sky Atlantic documentary feature, The Fall

Zola Budd and Mary Decker 1984 Olympics

The headline-hitting 1984 Los Angeles Olympic runners – Zola Budd and Mary Decker are to be reunited for the first time in over 30 years in an original and exclusive Sky Atlantic documentary feature – The Fall.  The 90-minute feature, which airs on Sky Atlantic on Friday 29 July at 9pm, will premiere in London’s Picturehouse Central on Wednesday 27 July, with special exclusive preview screenings on Thursday 28 July, before opening in Picturehouse Cinemas nationwide from Friday 29 July. 

Made by a multi-award winning production team that includes Oscar and Emmy award-winning Passion Pictures’ Executive Producer John Battsek (One Day in September, Hillsborough) and Emmy and BAFTA nominated Director, Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough), The Fall will feature exclusive interviews with South African barefoot runner, Zola and American track athlete, Mary, to reveal the true story behind one of the most controversial moments in sporting history, when the Olympic runners’ dream of winning the 3000m women’s final fell by the trackside.  It will feature archive footage, together with new and exclusive interviews with those closest to the events leading up to and beyond that fateful race.

This new original feature builds on a successful track record for documentaries on Sky.  Sky Atlantic’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief has just been nominated at the Edinburgh International Television Festival’s 2016 TV Awards to add to its three Emmy wins. 

Zola Budd was just seventeen years old and living in Apartheid South Africa when she was persuaded to adopt British nationality to avoid the international sporting boycott of South Africans.  With British citizenship, Zola – who was famed for running barefoot – was able to compete in the 1984 LA Summer Olympics as part of the British team.  World record breaking American runner, Mary Decker was tipped to win the gold medal in the 3000m women’s track final and the world was captivated by stories of the two runners.  The media revelled in the hype of an Olympic ‘duel.’  However, during the race, in front of an international audience of millions, Mary and Zola collided.  Mary fell down and was unable to complete the race.  Although Zola continued to run to the finishing line, she failed to secure any medal, reeling from the reaction she received from the crowd.  Following the race, a media frenzy ensued as the reason for ‘the fall’ was hotly debated.

On reuniting with Mary to tell their story in the documentary, Zola Budd commented: “I knew making this film would be opening up the black box in my mind which I haven’t opened since that day.  I thought it was time.” Mary Decker added, “I still think about that race every day.  Making this film has been cathartic.”

Sky Commissioning Editor for Factual and Documentaries, James Quinn said,

“The Fall is gripping, deeply moving and beautifully made, revealing the astonishing story behind one of the most memorable moments in modern Olympic history.” 

Picturehouse Entertainment Director of Programming and Acquisitions, Clare Binns said,

“thousands will remember watching on TV in the summer of 1984, and we look forward to finally sharing the truth behind that infamous race. What better way to see it than up on the big screen, with cinema audiences – the perfect preparation for the Rio Olympics.” 

The Fall’s Wednesday 27 July Premiere in Picturehouse Cinema Central, London will be followed by special previews with selected Q&As on Thursday 28 July and will open on Friday 29 July.  The Fall is a Hillside Production (part of the CTVC group) in association with Passion Pictures.  It was produced by Karen Emsley and commissioned and Executive Produced for Sky Atlantic by James Quinn.     

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