Aired on the occasion of Operation CAP 48, this documentary tells the incredible story of blind and motorcyclist Australian Ben Felton (51). It is the story of a man who, despite his disability, never gave up on his passion and his dreams. It is also a beautiful story of friendship with his co-pilot and a young boy, to whom he infuses hope.
“Dark Rider”: a fantastic film with breathtaking images by Eva Kuper that is not to be missed and to be seen again on Auvio on Saturday 16/10 on La Trois at Fenitre sur Doc at 11:00
The landscape is almost lunar. Two motorcycles are running at full speed. The image is superb. Sound is just as important. We hear the signal given by the radio: “Straight ahead, further to the left, still straight ahead”. We understand that the rider of the first motorcycle is blind. This is 51 year old Australian Ben Felton. Behind him is his guide, 56-year-old former Grand Prix champion Kevin Magee. We are immediately struck by this incredible story.
Ben suffers from an incurable eye disease that left him blind at the age of about 35. Despite this, he refused to give up on his childhood dream of becoming a professional motorcycle rider. But he goes even further with this insane challenge: to beat the world track speed record and become the fastest blind motorcycle rider in the world. For this he enlists a former motorcycle champion, Kevin, who will accompany him during his preparation. The film will follow two men who train together. We also follow him in his meeting with Jade, a thirteen-year-old teenager who suffers from a degenerative eye disease that risks making him blind. Ben’s determination serves as an example. very beautiful movie dark riderAdorned with lovely characters, tells a beautiful story of resilience.
Produced by Clein d’Oil Films / Serendipity Films and Voya Films in co-production with RTBF and VRT
I know the bike and the speed, I couldn’t imagine it was possible to ride without looking
I myself have a passion for motorcycles and speed. I rode circuits all over Europe. In 2014, while I was riding a circuit in England, a friend showed me a newspaper article about a blind motorcyclist in Scotland who had just broken a speed record. I know what speed is and I couldn’t imagine it would be possible to drive without looking, it was amazing. I met him but he was not ready to make the film. A few years later he told me about a blind Australian who was training to break his record and was going to run a race. I called my producer and we said “Okay, let’s go!”. I totally wanted to see if there was a possible story and movie with Ben Felton. It was still a risk because we had to go to the other side of the world very quickly. we left after 3 weeks Karl RottiersMy cameraman, who is also a motorcycle enthusiast, on this Salt Lake in Australia where he trained.
How was this first meeting?
It was very rough conditions but it was spectacular and very intense. We immediately had a great contact with Ben and his co-pilot, Kevin. We got directly connected to these characters, their sense of humour, their emotions… it was unique. And we decided to make this film together. Shooting took more than 3 years. We went to Australia to see the film several times, each time for about a month. During the shoot, we put together the necessary scenes like pieces of a puzzle to tell this story.
My character Ben gives hope and inspiration, that’s what I really like
Is it much more than a motorcycle movie and a record? It is also, and perhaps above all, a film about dreams, which transcends itself?
Absolutely yes. The motorcycle record is the common thread. What is really important and what I want to highlight is friendship, the importance of following your dreams and passions. This is not a film specifically about motorcycles and it is important that even those who know nothing about it are touched and moved by the film. I had the same reaction during the screening in the theatre. The wonderful thing about Ben is that he challenges preconceived notions. It is unimaginable to see a blind man on a motorcycle trying to break a speed record. I love the idea of Ben pushing those boundaries. It can arouse craving in others. You can flourish by chasing your dreams, this is true for people with disabilities but really for everyone. After the screening, someone told me: “I’m not as handicapped as Ben, but if he can follow his dreams, so am I.” It gives hope and inspiration to people and I really love it.
There is also a lot of question of friendship, of transmission.
Yes for me it is a little bit of the heart of the film. It’s a friendship between Ben and Kevin, his co-pilot, but also between him and young Jade, who also risks going blind. For Ben, that’s really the most important thing: more than just breaking that record, it’s being able to help others achieve dreams like his. Ben and Kevin’s friendship with this young Jade is really important. They meet during our filming. I didn’t necessarily anticipate this dimension, this question of transmission. But it became necessary immediately. This completes the story.
This documentary is made almost like a fantasy. Was it wanted?
Yes, it is important for me that when we watch our movies we are really immersed in the story. That we are not “disturbed” by classic interviews or moments when we feel my presence as a director. I want us to be taken in by the emotions and by the characters. Perhaps this gives the impression of fantasy even when all this is true.
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