From executive producer Alfonso CuarĂ³n (Roma, Gravity) and director Riccardo Romani comes HANDS OF GOD, a compelling documentary telling the true story of the Iraqi National Boxing Team and their amazing journey from desperation to the edge of an historic qualification. The film follows a group of young men — Waheed, Jafaar, and Saadi — who, with grit and determination, rise to fight for their Nation while defending their lives on the battlefields. When their gym is devastated by a bomb attack, they train outside. Despite living under the persistent threat of ISIS, these men re-define commitment and sacrifice as they strive to accomplish their dreams.

Will Private Waheed find enough time to for training while undertaking his army duty? Will young Jafaar maintain his focus while living in the most dangerous suburb in the world? Will promising heavyweight Saadi come back from his mission to liberate Falluja? From Al Sadr City to Rio de Janeiro, HANDS OF GOD is a stunning tale of hope and redemption.

What We Thought:

Hands of God shows a side of sports because of politics we normally don’t think about. I live in the United States. Our Olympic athletes/hopefuls train year round with the best equipment possible. Making the US Olympic team is a great thing that fills people with pride. Well this shows the other side of things, athletes who don’t have the facilities, equipment or even time to train because of war and politics.

The film follows boxers training for the Iraqi Olympic boxing team. Sounds pretty uneventful until you realize life isn’t uneventful there. One day in the film some of the men were on their way to train when an explosion hit and they had to stop to help move bodies. One couldn’t travel to qualify because he couldn’t get the time off from being a soldier. While they are making strides in the ring, their brethren are making strides against terrorists.

Many of these kids (and most are kids) had never left the country. They travel to Italy where you see boys will be boys no matter where they are from. They love seeing the Italian girls. The one kid jokes about how the Italian street beggar wears nicer clothes than a regular Iraqi. It’s something we simply don’t think about because we don’t have to live that life.

Hands of God is an enjoyable and educational watch and I won’t spoil whether or not any of the boxers make the Olympics. I also liked the fact that the last Iraqi to box in the Olympics had to face Evander Holyfield in the 1980s. That man jokes in the movie that at least he lost to a champion. If you are interested in seeing a different angle of what sports means to people, check it out.

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