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Alexia VANLAERE: a cross-border journey around women committed to sport

13 February 2024 Portraits / Podcasts

Alexia VANLAERE (TBS Education 2022), is directing her first documentary film: Women's Game, which tells the story of women who are shaking things up through sport. Her aim is to inspire, raise awareness and inspire women to get moving.

Alexia entered Sciences Po Toulouse as a post-baccalaureate student. She chose to complete her studies with a double degree at TBS Education. This opportunity enabled her to spend a gap year with PLAY International, an NGO, where she coordinated a program for the inclusion of refugees through sport. She then went on to complete a M2 work-study program with the Décathlon Foundation. Two rich experiences in the world of sport and associations. Following these experiences, Alexia decided to embark on a new adventure: a journey punctuated by the creation of a committed documentary film.

The project was born a year before her departure. Pursuing a childhood dream of being a reporter, and influenced by a number of committed documentaries, Alexia set out to make her own documentary film. She wanted to meet women who had taken action to change their lives and those of others through sport. She identified inspiring women who were carrying out initiatives that she was going to film. These encounters will guide her on her journey.

In February 2023, it's time to leave. She flies off with her boyfriend, Thomas, who chooses to accompany her both on the journey and in her project as a videographer. A ten-month journey, with no training in journalism, film or video, to create an inspiring documentary. She learned most of her skills on the spot, improving day by day and interview by interview.

Alexia met inspiring women with a passion for sport in six different countries. Some of them are renowned, others are behind-the-scenes women working at a very local level with communities in need. While most of the encounters were planned, others took place as the journey unfolded, making both the journey and the documentary all the more magical and authentic.

For example:

Cecilia, a mountaineer like no other, climbs South America's highest peaks in traditional dress. By creating the Cholitas Escaladoras women's collective, she is combating the omnipresent machismo in traditional Bolivian culture and freeing Cholitas women from the ready-made destinies that await them.

Lindseay, the 18-year-old seed of a paddle-surfing champion, is already a mother. Originally from the island of Tierra Bomba in Colombia, which is marked by poverty and a lack of public services, Lindseay finds in surfing a tranquillity and self-confidence that contrast with her complex daily life.

Alexia made this trip entirely on her own, without any sponsors. She wanted to be free in her choices, her interviews and her itinerary. So it was on her return that she had to find financial support and documentary-making skills.

As soon as she returned in December 2023, she took part in competitions open to project leaders, which led to support from EY, TBS Education and the Décathlon Foundation, as well as donations from private individuals.

His current goal is to work with a production company to showcase his amateur work in a professional documentary film. The film is scheduled for release in 2025, ideally in schools, events, film festivals, cinemas and, eventually, on television. It will be translated into French, English and Spanish. Its aim: to move and inspire viewers around the world.

Motivated and ambitious, Alexia threw herself into this project, which was close to her heart, without putting up any barriers despite her lack of skills and experience in this field. For her, it's important to break down the mental barriers that limit our ability to act. "Even if the project is demanding and not perfect, don't let your fears hold you back. Don't wait until you're perfect before taking the plunge! Taking the plunge and taking action will always make you progress." Alexia VANLAERE

If you'd like to support this project and make these women's voices heard, or if you'd like to find out more, don't hesitate to contact Alexia on her networks.

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