Icarus (2017 film)

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A person trying to run with its body controlled by a hand with strings wrapped around its fingers. The shadow below the person shows a Hammer and Sickle. The film's titles shows the "R" facing the opposite direction with the tagline below reading "Truth is the new banned Substance"
Film release poster
Directed byBryan Fogel
Written by
  • Bryan Fogel
  • Mark Monroe
Produced by
  • Dan Cogan
  • Bryan Fogel
  • David Fialkow
  • Jim Swartz
  • Jake Swantko
  • Timothy Rode
Edited byJon Bertain
Music byAdam Peters
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • January 20, 2017 (2017-01-20) (Sundance)
  • August 4, 2017 (2017-08-04) (United States)[1]
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited States

Icarus is a 2017 American documentary film by Bryan Fogel. It chronicles Fogel's exploration of the option of doping to win an amateur cycling race and happening upon a major international doping scandal when he asks for the help of Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory.[2] It premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2017, and was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award (Orwell Award).[2][3][4] Netflix acquired the distribution rights[5] and released Icarus globally on August 4, 2017.[1] At the 90th Academy Awards, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


While investigating the furtive world of illegal doping in sports, Bryan Fogel connects with Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory. Rodchenkov creates a plan for Fogel to take banned performance-enhancing drugs in a way that will evade detection from drug-testing, helping Fogel's experiment to prove that the current way athletes are tested for drugs is insufficient. As Fogel continues his training, he and Rodchenkov become friends, and Rodchenkov eventually reveals that Russia has a state-sponsored Olympic doping program that he oversees.

When allegations emerge in the international media over the possible existence of such a program, Fogel realizes that Rodchenkov is in danger of being "silenced" by the Russian government and has him flown to Los Angeles for his protection. Using Rodchenkov's knowledge of the doping program, they speak to the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the New York Times, alleging that Russia has conspired to cheat in the Olympics for decades, and he was hired to ramp up the operation after the Russian team's embarrassing performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.[6]

On camera, Rodchenkov testifies that at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, with the help of the Federal Security Service, he and his team switched steroid-tainted urine of the Russian national team with clean samples, evading positive detection. He provides spreadsheets, discs, e-mails, and more incriminating evidence of Russian involvement, forcing the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee to investigate. After WADA's independent investigation confirms Rodchenkov's claims, U.S. Law Enforcement places him in protective custody.[7] Rodchenkov's lawyer, Jim Walden, appears briefly in the film describing the threats to Rodchenkov's life and the suspicious deaths of two of Rodchenkov's associates.[1][2]

The film ends stating that the Russian government continues to deny it had any involvement with the program and that Rodchenkov remains in protective custody.


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Icarus is eye-opening viewing for professional sports enthusiasts, yet it should also prove thoroughly gripping even for filmgoers who might not necessarily be drawn to the subject."[8] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has an average score of 68 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

Writing for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and called it "a crackling documentary".[10]

The trailer for the film was screened during a February 2018 meeting of the U.S. Helsinki Commission (also known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe). During that meeting, attorney Jim Walden spoke about Rodchenkov's work as well as the need for better enforcement by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee in order to eliminate corruption and restore integrity to the international athletic community.[11]

At the 90th Academy Awards, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[12] During his on-stage acceptance remarks at the Oscar ceremony, director Bryan Fogel said:

We dedicate this award to Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, our fearless whistle-blower who now lives in great danger. We hope 'Icarus' is a wake-up call — yes, about Russia, but more than that, about the importance of telling the truth, now more than ever.[12]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Documentary Feature Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan Won [13]
Austin Film Critics Association January 8, 2018 Best Documentary Icarus Nominated [14]
British Academy Film Awards February 18, 2018 Best Documentary Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan Nominated [15]
Cinema Eye Honors January 11, 2018 Hell Yeah Prize Icarus Won [16][17]
The Unforgettables Grigory Rodchenkov Won
Cinema for Peace Awards February 19, 2018 Most Valuable Documentary of the Year Icarus Nominated [18]
Critics' Choice Documentary Awards November 2, 2017 Best Sports Documentary Icarus Won [19]
Directors Guild of America Awards February 3, 2018 Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries Bryan Fogel Nominated [20]
Hamptons International Film Festival August 26, 2017 SummerDocs Audience Award Icarus Won [21][22]
IDA Documentary Awards December 9, 2017 VideoSource Award Icarus Nominated [23]
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards February 18, 2018 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Documentary E.J. Holowicki, Chris Barnett, Adam Peters, and Mikael Sandgren Nominated [24]
Primetime Emmy Awards September 9, 2018 Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan, David Fialkow, and Jim Swartz Nominated [25]
Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program Bryan Fogel Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program Bryan Fogel, Mark Monroe, and Jon Bertain Nominated
Satellite Awards February 11, 2018 Best Motion Picture, Documentary Icarus Nominated [26]
Sundance Film Festival January 28, 2017 Special Jury Award: The Orwell Award Icarus Won [27]
Sundance Film Festival London June 4, 2017 Audience Award Icarus Won [28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Icarus". Netflix Media Center. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Icarus". Sundance Institute. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sundance Film Festival | About | 2017 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners". Sundance Institute. Archived from the original on July 26, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2017. U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, The Orwell Award: Icarus
  4. ^ "2017 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony". Sundance Institute. January 28, 2017. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  5. ^ Lang, Brent; Setoodeh, Ramin (January 24, 2017). "Sundance: Netflix Lands Russian Doping Documentary 'Icarus' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  6. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Schwirtz, Michael (May 12, 2016). "Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Ingle, Sean (Nov 10, 2017). "Wada says database confirms McLaren report on Russia doping". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  8. ^ "Icarus (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  9. ^ "Icarus Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Icarus Movie Review & Film Summary (2017)". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC.
  11. ^ "Attorney Speaks Russia's Doping Program, Feb 22 2018 | Video | C-SPAN.org". C-SPAN.org. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  12. ^ a b McNary, Dave (2018-03-05). "Netflix Wins First Feature Documentary Oscar With 'Icarus'". Variety. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  13. ^ "Academy Award Winners 2018: The Complete List". Variety. March 4, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  14. ^ Neglia, Matt (December 30, 2017). "The 2017 Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) Nominations". NextBestPicture. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  15. ^ "EE British Academy Film Awards Winners in 2018". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 8 January 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  16. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 14, 2018). "Strong Island Takes Top Cinema Eye Documentary Honors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  17. ^ Donnelly, Matt (January 11, 2018). "Strong Island and Jane Top 2018 Cinema Eye Honors". TheWrap. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  18. ^ "Let's Make Our Planet Great Again: Cinema for Peace Berlin 2018". Cinema for Peace Foundation. February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  19. ^ "Critics' Choice Documentary Awards: Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. November 2, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  20. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (January 10, 2018). "Game of Thrones, Handmaid's Tale, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Grab Directors Guild Award Nominations". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  21. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (September 18, 2017). "I, Tonya to Close 2017 Hamptons Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  22. ^ "The Hamptons International Film Festival Announces The Ninth Annual SummerDocs Series" (PDF). Hamptons International Film Festival. June 15, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  23. ^ "IDA Announces First Round of Documentary Awards Nominees". International Documentary Association. October 16, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  24. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 22, 2018). "MPSE Golden Reel Awards: Baby Driver, Dunkirk Among Sound Editors' Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  25. ^ "Icarus". Television Academy. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  26. ^ "2017 Winners". International Press Academy. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  27. ^ Kohn, Eric; Erbland, Kate (January 28, 2017). "Sundance 2017 Award Winners: I Don't Feel At Home in This World Anymore, Dina and More Pick Up Grand Jury Prizes". IndieWire. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  28. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (June 5, 2017). "Icarus wins first ever Sundance London audience award". Screen Daily. Retrieved February 28, 2022.

External links[edit]