‘Icarus,’ a film with deep Boston ties, wins best documentary at the Oscars

“Icarus,” the provocative, Boston-backed documentary that uncovered proof of widespread doping at the Olympic level by the Russian government, won the Oscar for best documentary feature at tonight’s ceremony.

Its producers — including Boston-linked David Fialkow and Dan Cogan, of Impact Partners — joined director Bryan Fogel on stage to accept the award.

Fogel thanked family and friends who supported him as the first-time feature filmmaker embarked on what was at first an audacious, unconventional experiment: doping himself in an attempt to prove that the same anti-doping tests that Lance Armstrong successfully beat for decades were rigged at a system-wide level. When Fogel befriended Russian doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, at that time in charge of testing the entire Russian Olympic team, the documentary took a wild turn. Rodchenkov, as the doc recounts, had been at the center of a state-sponsored doping program, set up to give the country’s athletes an unfair edge in international competition. (You can see the film now; it’s streaming on Netflix)


As the filmmakers continued to interview Rodchenkov, their work became integral to building outcry around the world against Russia, which, as a result, was banned from this year’s recently concluded Winter Olympics.

Fialkow, based in Boston and also a managing director at Cambridge venture capital firm General Catalyst, and Cogan, a Harvard grad who sometimes lives in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, urged industry higher-ups to continue backing documentaries with the potential to affect significant social change.