Some stories are almost too crazy to be true. I recently stumbled upon a trailer for a documentary film that was uploaded 9 months ago. Yet it couldn’t be any more timely. The film tells the story of Swedish ultra-runner Kristina Paltén, who should become the first woman to ever cross Iran by foot. Let that settle for a moment. This is a woman who is not just long-distance hiking, but actually RUNNING 1.144 miles across an entire country – and not just any country, but Iran of all places.
On the film’s Facebook page Kristina says that she chose this destination for three main reasons: ‘The beautiful nature, the long distance and her own prejudices against the country.’ With little knowledge other than what the media reports about Iran, she set out on an adventure. A two-times world record-holding runner, the physical challenge seems to have been the least of her problems. Much more so, Kristina was impacted by her expectations, prejudices and the surprising reality of her journey.
‘With this run I want to question my own prejudices, learn more about a culture I know little about and meet a lot of people. I hope my run will contribute to more openness, trust and tolerance both within myself but also in the world’, she says.
The film follows her before, during and after the trip, covering 1.5 years of her life. It is produced and directed by André Larsson and Shamim Berkeh, who joined Kristina together with their photographer Soroush Morshedian.
Within a few minutes the story had me close to tears – on the subway of all places, where I was watching the trailer. Kristina’s initial fear is relatable to anyone who has ever felt intimidated by travelling solo, or by an extreme physical challenge. But quickly it becomes clear that Kristina’s hope to dismantle prejudice and stereotypes is to be aided by the hospitality, curiosity and support she receives from the local Iranians crossing her path.
In times like these, I find it incredibly important and inspiring to stumble upon stories like this. And empowering as well – that one travelling woman can raise awareness for such a misunderstood country like Iran, and deliver a message of peace and understanding by simply doing something that she loves.
It is a film I am eagerly anticipating to see in its finished form – which according to the