90th Oscars Speech: ICARUS, Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan


BRYAN FOGEL: Thank you, thank you, to the Academy. Thanks to Ted Sarandos, Lisa Nishimura, Adam Del Deo our incredible partners at Netflix. UTA Rena Ronson, and our fellow producers Jim Swartz, David Fialkow, and amazing creative team, Jon Bertain, Mark Monroe, Jake Swantko, Adam Peters, and my parents who are here. I love you guys. We dedicate this award, we dedicate this award to Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, our fearless whistleblower who now lives in grave danger. We hope “Icarus” is a wake-up call, yes, about Russia. But more than that, about the importance of telling the truth, now more than ever.

DAN COGAN: To my wife Liz Garbus. You taught me everything I know about how to support a great filmmaker because you are one. Amelia and Theo, I love you. And Geralyn Dreyfous and all the members of Impact Partners. Thank you all for making the films like “Icarus” possible. Thank you.


Q. So how important is Netflix to documentary features, and what’s the future for Russia under Putin?
A. (Bryan Fogel) Netflix has single‑handedly changed the documentary world. They have given voice to documentary in a way that no company or distributor has ever done before. There are in a 120 countries ‑‑ or 190 countries, 120 million homes, and it was a no‑brainer decision for us to go with Netflix, because the love and support they were able to give this film that was of true importance to Dan and I and to Gregory, and that the world see it. And Netflix, I think, has done an extraordinary job, and are honored that this is their film.
A. (Dan Cogan) I want ‑‑ I want to add that Lisa Nishimura, the head of documentary there, has single‑handedly changed the documentary landscape around the world and made it so that people want to watch these films at home everywhere. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for filmmakers that we never would have had before them. At the touch of a button now, you are in 190 million homes. There’s nothing like it, and it’s a huge honor for us to win the first Oscar for a feature‑length film for Netflix. We consider that a piece of history, and we’re deeply honored.

Q. My question is, how did you manage to make the film so quickly?
A. (Dan Cogan) It took 4 years.
A. (Bryan Fogel) Four years.

Q. Really? No, I was going to laugh. And was it difficult to obtain truthful information?
A. (Bryan Fogel) Well, it’s not difficult to obtain truthful information when the person that you’re speaking to is telling the truth. And what we’ve seen is that all of his evidence that he brought forward has been corroborated, has been forensically proven, has been proven by DNA, salt analysis, et cetera. So it is irrelevant what Russia would like to say in regards to Dr. Rodchenkov or what Russia would like to say in regards to the truth. The truth is the truth is the truth. And then there’s fake news, and then there’s false news, and then there’s the truth. And Dr. Rodchenkov told the truth. So when you have a truth teller and a whistleblower, it’s not hard to prove the truth when they’re telling the truth.
A. (Dan Cogan) I’d like to add that every single thing that Grigory Rodchenkov told us was true, and we know that because it was proven, as Bryan said, chemically, forensically, and there is no denying it no matter how much you want to say about it.

Q. Do you know what the status of the threat is that Grigory is under now? I understand he’s still, as far as you know, in the Federal Witness Protection Program. And is there any sense of how long he will be under threat and how intense the threat is?
A. (Bryan Fogel) Well, this is truly for Grigory’s lawyer, Jim Walden, to talk about. But from what we know, which is secondhand information, the threat is very real. There is a hunt going on for him, at least as what we’ve been told. And more importantly, Russia has formally asked for his extradition. And in Russia, he has been made out to be a liar and somebody who is deceitful, and the Russian media has not honestly reported on this story, while they continue to blame this entire scandal on one individual while not taking a single shred of responsibility for this scandal, and then being accepted back into the Olympics, which in and of itself is a scandal and a scam.

So as to Grigory’s safety, it is a precarious situation ‑‑ and we are hopeful that our government will continue to protect him. And as to his future, it is one that is in doubt, because what we are seeing is that telling the truth doesn’t necessarily set you free. And in regards to telling the truth against Russia and your own country, not only does it not set you free, but it makes you a wanted and hunted man. And that is tragic.
A. (Dan Fogel) It’s important to add that the former head of the Russian Olympic Committee said publically months ago that Grigory should be shot as he would have been in Stalin’s time. And I haven’t heard him take that back or say that he regrets that, and I haven’t heard anyone in the Russian government say that that’s not what they should be doing. So I think we all have to take the threats to him extremely, extremely seriously.

Q. I wanted to know what was going through your mind when you saw ‑‑ I’m assuming you watched some of the Olympics ‑‑ when you saw the Olympic athletes from Russia compete. And in one case their hockey team, which represented an entire team as opposed to individuals, won the gold medal. Did you think that was right? And what do you think the Russian government is thinking of the IOC’s lack of action?
A. (Dan Cogan) Let me say one thing. Bryan and I have both been to Russia. Bryan spent a lot of time with Grigory in Russia, and he loves the Russian people. The goal of this movie was never to go after Russia. In fact, as you see from the movie, we were working with Dr. Rodchenkov because Bryan wanted to dope himself and test the system internationally. It just happened that Russia came up in the course of doing that because of the revelations about Grigory. So, we want clean athletes to compete. If they are clean Russian athletes competing, we’re thrilled for them. However, what the IOC has done by banning Russia, supposedly, but then allowing so many athletes to compete, has really been a fraud, and I know that Bryan would like to say more about that.
A. (Bryan Fogel) Well, I mean, plain and simple, Thomas Bach needs to resign. He is a crook, and what he has shown to Planet Earth and any athlete who believes in the Olympic ideal is to not trust it and to not trust those words. Because if you can corroborate and prove and substantiate a fraud on this caliber on this level that spanned for decades, and then essentially give that country that committed that fraud a slap on the wrist, allow 160 of their athletes to compete in those games, two of them found doping, and then immediately after the games are over, without that country ever accepting responsibility, apologizing for any of their actions or accepting that any of this was truth while they continue to hunt Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, and they lift the ban on that country: What a fraud. What a corrupt organization, and that man should be embarrassed and ashamed of himself. He needs to resign.

Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.