“I believe that any human being is capable of greatness by inspiration.”
– Franz Stampfl
CHAMPION is a cinematic feature documentary currently in production with Incognita Enterprises & Ben Steel Films exploring the inspirational true story of the world-renowned athletics coach Franz Stampfl – who came to international attention after coaching Roger Bannister to break the elusive Four Minute Mile record in Oxford, England in 1954.
This documentary shines a light on an unsung hero of the sporting and motivational arenas, inspiring others to strive for excellence in their own lives. The film promotes the pursuit of excellence in all things, the importance of the Arts for spiritual and emotional inspiration, the value of sport and fitness in our society at all levels, the important contribution that immigrants make to Australian culture and society, as well as fascinating personal insights into major historical events of the 20th Century.
At a time when we all need heroes and to be reminded of the power of one, this documentary tells the tale of one individual’s amazing and unexpected life – showing all of us that anyone, anywhere can do anything if we just dare to believe.
And Franz Stampfl led an extraordinary life – his beginnings as an Art student in Austria and then London. His survival of the torpedoing of the ill-fated Arandora Star by a German U-boat off the Irish coast in 1940, which lead to the death of over half his fellow passengers and his treading freezing water for nine hours waiting for rescue. His internment, one week later, on the infamous “prison ship” Dunera as an enemy alien internee, along with hundreds of Austrian and German Jews, bound for Australia. His choosing to become an Australian citizen in 1955 and the enormous contributions he made to Melbourne, Australian and global sporting cultures, including coaching over 300 Olympians, Commonwealth Games athletes, World Champions & National Champions – worldwide. His near fatal car accident in 1980 that rendered him a quadriplegic yet failed to stop him from heading back to the track. Through a story that carries plot twists to rival any Hollywood blockbuster, we will attempt to answer the questions – what drove this man, who was he and how did someone described by many as one of the 20th Century’s most influential and globally recognized figures in Sport fade into the footnotes of history?
Written, directed and produced by ex-BBC staffer, Sally McLean (whose previous work as writer/producer/director has screened on Australian and UK television), with fellow producer Ben Steel (whose film & television credits have spanned 25 years across countries such as the USA, UK, Czech Republic, Aruba, and Australia) and Executive Produced by Phil Craig (former Head of Factual, ABC TV) and Robert Lewis Galinsky, writer/producer of major feature films, including the 1950’s RedEx epic Dust and Glory (to be directed by Simon West – The Expendables 2, Con Air, Lara Croft Tomb Raider), this documentary is intended for local and international cinema and broadcast markets and is currently in production.
Piecing together the life of this intriguing man through interviews with a wide selection of fascinating and prominent people from all over the world whom he knew and/or coached (including Sir Roger Bannister, Sir Chris Chataway, Ron Clarke, Herb Elliot, John Landy, Ralph Doubell, David Williamson and Ulick O’Connor) and the use of inventive augmented footage combined with rare archive film, audio and stills – this documentary celebrates the remarkable talent, commitment to excellence and inspirational personality of Franz Stampfl, brought to life by the first-hand inspiring stories of some of the 22,000+ athletes at all levels of Sport that he coached over his long career worldwide, as well as friends, family and colleagues.
CHAMPION gives voice once more to an extraordinary human being who shows us that nothing is impossible if you choose to believe in a dream, never give up and are just willing to try.