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Director Asif Kapadia on Federer: 12 Final Days: “I’d never been to a tennis match in my life”

The idea of keeping the framing short – to 12 days – was what I found interesting,” Kapadia says.

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Federer: 12 Final Days

Academy Award-winning director Asif Kapadia, known for his gripping documentaries on the lives of Ayrton Senna and Amy Winehouse, takes a unique approach to the world of tennis in his latest project, Federer: Twelve Final Days, now streaming only on Prime Video. What’s surprising, however, is Kapadia’s initial hesitation to helm the documentary. “I’d never been to a tennis match in my life. Never watched it,” he admits. But a chance encounter with unseen footage of Roger Federer’s final days, as a professional athlete, sparked an unexpected connection.

Asif Kapadia shares, “I was contacted by one of my reps in America who said, ‘There’s a project about Federer, would you be interested?’ I said, ‘I’m not sure’. They said that there was some material. Honestly, I went into it thinking it wasn’t for me. But as I’m watching it, I realise that I am actually watching it. I found myself being quite moved. I don’t know tennis, I’m not a Roger Federer fan, but something in this is affecting me and I think this is actually just about getting old. It’s not really about tennis. I’m middle-aged now, right? I was once the youngest person on a film crew, and now I’m in my fifties and I’ve got teenage kids.” This shift in perspective is what makes Federer: Twelve Final Days so compelling. It transcends the realm of sports fandom, offering a poignant reflection on mortality and the bittersweet passage of time. “I’ve done lots of life stories,” he explains, referencing his past works. But here, the focus is condensed, capturing the essence of a legend’s farewell within a tightly woven narrative.” The idea of keeping the framing short – to 12 days – was what I found interesting,” Kapadia says. “Everyone would expect the ‘life story’ but I’ve done that, and everyone’s copying that now.”

Federer: Twelve Final Days promises a riveting glimpse into the human side of Roger Federer, a man grappling with the end of an era, not just for himself, but for an entire generation that grew up idolising his grace and artistry on the court. Whether you’re a die-hard tennis fan or simply someone pondering on the inevitable passage of time, Asif Kapadia’s unique perspective promises a documentary that transcends the sport and offers a universally relatable story of farewell, legacy, and the melancholic beauty of growing old.

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