'Rising Phoenix' premieres on Netflix, honors Paralympic athletes remarkably
When the world is reeling under the coronavirus crisis, Netflix has brought a narrative every 'defeated' person must watch. Rising Phoenix, a Netflix documentary featuring some of the top Paralympic athletes out there, has premiered on the platform on August 26. Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui ("McQueen"), this is a lesson to perceive hurdles in a new light and overcome them.
The documentary features South African track athlete Ntando Mahlangu, wheelchair rugby player Ryley Batt, powerlifter Cui Zhe, runner Jean-Baptiste Alaize, fencer Bebe Vio, sprinter Jonnie Peacock, swimmer Ellie Cole, wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden and archery champion Matt Stutzman. Each of these athletes faces a range of disabilities from truncated limb development (hemimelia) to polio and yet, never backed down from winning over life's hurdles.
The athletes featured in the documentary have lifted themselves way above the pedestal of sympathy, which the trailer of Rising Phoenix makes crystal clear since the start. Each athlete is introduced with the spotlights focusing on their will to embrace their conditions and make the mark. Stutzman, who shoots arrows with his feet, smirks and says, "This is how I am. Merry Christmas!"
You are humbled as you hear Vio - the first fencer on wheelchair overcoming meningitis that stripped all her limbs off - say one can never go ahead if they keep thinking why disability chose them. You are touched upon hearing Alaize, who lost his legs to war, assert how disabled people live in a system not designed for their success. Motivating, must say!
Ultimately, your eyes well up as you listen to the background track of this Netflix original title. Composer Daniel Pemberton weaves power and victory within this hip-hop track voiced and recorded by disabled rappers George 'TraGiC' Doman, Toni Hickman and Keith Jones all over the internet. Doman and Jones have cerebral palsy, while Hickman, a woman of color, has her right side paralyzed.