New film takes viewer on emotional journey along Hong Kong’s 4 trails, in ‘Breaking 60’ director’s sequel
- The Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge is a 298km epic, and director Robin Lee turns lens on athletes during race’s 10th anniversary
- ‘Four Trails’ follows the international acclaim of Lee’s 2017 documentary, which won multiple awards
The trailer for the new Four Trails film was released on Friday, teasing an emotional look at the runners who take part in one of Hong Kong’s iconic races.
Filmed over three sleep-deprived days and nights by director Robin Lee and his crew, the documentary charts those athletes taking on the 298km epic, the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge.
A self-supported race along the MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau trails, runners have 60 hours to reach the end to be deemed a ‘finisher’. If they reach the end in 72 hours, the are deemed a ‘survivor’. The end is marked by the nondescript, but now iconic, green postbox in Mui Wo.
To celebrate this year’s 10th anniversary of the event, organisers only invited back former finishers and survivors, and Lee was there to capture the highs and lows in a follow-up to his 2017 film Breaking 60, which was the first year there was any finishers.
Met with critical acclaim on its release, Lee’s first film won multiple awards at international festivals, including The Trail Running Film Festival, Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and was shortlisted for the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival.
“Since Breaking 60 and watching the event over the last few, it became apparent that the event is really not about who is the fastest or who can break 60, but about what individual people want to achieve within the event,” Lee said.
“What I wanted to show with this film is those different characters and their different approaches to a challenge like this and no matter what time you finish in, it's a huge accomplishment.”
Lee thinks the audience will be surprised by the emotion connected to some of the runners’ stories.
“I think there are about 4 or 5 parts where you could cry. I don’t think people expect to cry during a trail running film,” Lee said.
“Most people watch these types of films to see the pain and the struggle people go through. To see just how hard it is, be inspired or if they could do it themselves. I think people won’t expect just how much something like this can mean to somebody.”
What’s more, people not familiar with Hong Kong will be surprised by the stunning beauty outside the city.
“We were blessed with perfect filming conditions and I cant wait for people to see what we have,” Lee said.
The scope of Four Trails made the logistics difficult. In Breaking 60 the film crew just followed the fastest runners. But as they covered the characters from fastest to slowest in the latest film, Lee and his team were travelling back and forth all over Hong Kong to try and catch the runners.
The logistical challenges became harder as sleep deprivation took hold. Lee and his crew were filming all day and night for three nights.
“By the time you get to the second night and third day you are in a very similar state to the runners mentally, and trying to make these decisions of where to be and when became increasingly difficult,” Lee said.
By the third night, Lee was the last one left awake still filming. He would arrive at the trail, where he thought the runner would pass, and sleep on the ground until they arrived.
Finally, he was waiting for just one runner. Will Hayward was on his way to the finish. Lee was alone in an empty Mui Wo in the early hours of the morning. He lent against the iconic postbox and fell asleep.
“I am pretty sure Will was sleeping on some steps on Lantau Peak at the same time before we met,” Lee added. “Looking back at it now, I have no idea how we pulled it off.”