Private Project

Run for Life

At 59 years old, Lebanese athlete Ali Kedami has been running endurance races globally since 2005, completing the prestigious ”4 Deserts” ultramarathon series as well as many of the most challenging trail races around the world. Ali runs to empower his only child, Saria, who struggles from epilepsy and has physical limitations making it difficult for her to walk. Saria is Ali’s biggest fan, their relationship of athletic achievement and support motivates Saria to help her father accomplish amazing challenges and inspired her to overcome her walking difficulties, eventually running the final few kilometers of many races with her father. Ali’s mission as an athlete, coach, mentor and advocate has inspired countless runners and helped foster a developing running community in Lebanon.

The Beirut port explosion on August 4th, 2020 struck during a routine training run with Saria. The harrowing experience rattled Ali and left him feeling powerless and helpless to protect the people closest to him. Reflecting on the security and political and economic uncertainty of Lebanon, Ali began seriously contemplating leaving his home country behind for the sake of his daughter.

With this backdrop, Ali decides to attempt a record setting run on the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT), a difficult 470km route across the country, with a goal to break a record Ali helped American runner Patrick Vaughan set in 2017. Ali chooses one of his remarkable apprentices, Nayla Cortas, to attempt the LMT run with him. A budding ultrarunner affectionally referring to Ali as ‘coach’, Nayla learns from Ali how to pace herself for her first multi-day endurance effort. Ali notes: “She’s got the physical strength and I have the mental strength, together we will run the LMT in a record time!”

Ali’s determination to run the LMT becomes his escape from the tense situation in Lebanon, and maybe a farewell to his beloved country.
This film takes you on a journey that explores Ali’s love for his daughter, his mentor-protégé dynamic with Nayla, and his fortitude to overcome an extreme challenge – all set against the tragic crash of his beloved home country of Lebanon.

Will this journey prove to be his farewell tour of Lebanon? An overreach? The capstone of an inspiring career? Passing of the torch?

  • Bachar Khattar
    Confessions of a Runner
  • Patrick Vaughan
    Confessions of a Runner
  • Denise Jabbour
  • Ali Kedami
    Key Cast
  • Nayla Cortas
    Key Cast
  • Patrick Vaughan
    Key Cast
  • Matt Kynaston
  • Karim Ghorayeb
    Director of Photography
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Sports, Inspiration
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Arabic, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Bachar Khattar

Bachar Khattar was born in Lebanon and grew up in Beirut,
obtaining a degree in Audiovisual Studies in 2008 from Saint
Joseph University. His first short film won the Best Short
Film Award in Lebanon at the Notre Dame University, and he
immediately moved into filming commercials, TV shows, and
web series for popular artists in the region, as well as short

In 2014, Bachar worked as Director of Photography on
Yemeniettes, his first feature documentary. The film showcased
three Yemeni teenage girls who enter an entrepreneurship
competition but along the way encounter the hardships of a country marked by a broken educational system, joblessness, and the threatening presence of Al-Qaeda. The project won several awards, including Best Documentary Award at the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, NY.

An avid outdoorsman, Bachar’s love for the Lebanese countryside led him to meet Avedis Kalpaklian, the first Lebanon Mountain Trail Ultra runner, and subsequently Patrick Vaughan. Mr. Khattar is principal cinematographer for Confessions of a Runner, beginning with the race footage from June 2017. Bachar now lives with his wife and two-year-old son between Beirut and Ottawa.

His fluency in three languages (English, Arabic, and French) allows him to meet different people with interesting stories to document.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

After my first documentary “Confessions of a Runner” on the Leb-anon Mountain Trail (LMT) where Patrick Vaughan sets the record of 6 days 17 hours, I felt the urge to film Ali Kedami’s attempt to break the current record.
I was always inspired by Ali and knew that his story would be a great film to share. For most of 2020, Ali told me he planned to run the LMT in September/October, which we intended to film. After the blast, I felt suffocated from the new hard reality. I learned that Ali was highly affected by the explosion; I started filming him from early September and covering all the new changes that were happening in his personal life and preparation for the LMT run. We scheduled production and planned to shoot his run beginning on 5 October before the run had to be canceled at the last minute. As we had already scheduled resources, we continued shooting what we could capture.
While filming, we encountered huge wildfires in the mountains, including some within meters of my family home in Bater, that created great scenes for the documentary. We were lucky enough to film Ali and his team training in Beirut a month after the blast, capturing a sense of the destructive impact of the explosion. After filming for more than 10 days, we are on our way to have a great story to share, although we have had to stop the filming now due to several issues. Ali had to postpone his run for financial and secu-rity reasons: southern and northern Lebanon are so dangerous and neither the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association nor the Lebanese Army can take responsibility for our safety. We are ready to contin-ue producing this film when Ali decides to attempt the run again; however, the delays have already caused us to incur expenses be-yond our anticipated budget.
The story of Ali and his family expresses what I feel towards my country: deep inside I wish I will never have to leave. It’s disap-pointing that after all the economic and political issues, a disaster like this one now threatens our existence.
After almost a year of nearly no income, my first short documenta-ry recently won the Best Mountain Sports film in BANFF, as well as several other awards in various festivals around the world. That has given me the inspiration to keep doing what I love: making documentaries about inspiring people.