Desert Runners at Edinburgh International Film Festival



Smush Media, in association with Salty Features and Spoken Media, announces the world premiere of their highly-anticipated documentary DESERT RUNNERS at the 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Directed, produced and edited by award-winning Filmmaker Jennifer Steinman (Motherland), Produced by Academy Award-winning Producer Yael Melamede (Inocente, My Architect) and Diana Iles Parker (Eat the Sun), DESERT RUNNERS follows a diverse cast of non-professional runners as they attempt to complete the four most difficult ultramarathon races on Earth.  Their dramatic journey takes them across the World’s most picturesque yet brutal landscapes, as they push their bodies, hearts and spirits through a myriad of external and internal obstacles.  DESERT RUNNERS is a glimpse into the mindset of ultra-athletes, and the complex ways in which human beings deal with both heartbreak and triumph.

Jennifer Steinman, Smush Media said: “This film has been a three-year labour of love, and we are honoured to be premiering in Edinburgh.  Desert Runners is about running, but it is also about so much more—it’s an exploration into the perceived limitations that people place upon themselves, and the mindset necessary for some people to complete ‘impossible’ challenges.  Ultimately, it takes a certain kind of person to attempt a challenge of this magnitude, and it was my goal to find out who these people were and what they are made of.”

Yael Melamede, Salty Features said, “This is a film that gives viewers a front row seat to see what it really takes – heart and soul – to attempt the extraordinary.”

Diana Iles Parker, Spoken Media said, “Desert Runners reveals how the power of belief plays the most significant role in whether a person will succeed or fail in their quest – both on and off the race course.”

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 – Screenings

Thursday 20 June 13:00 Cineworld 11 (Press & Industry Screening)
World Premiere – Saturday 22 June 14:30 Cineworld 13 (Public Screening)
Sunday 23 June 15:30 Cineworld 13 (Public Screening)
Friday 28 June 09:20 Cineworld 13 (Press & Industry Screening)

About The Filmmakers

Jennifer Steinman
Director, Producer, Editor

Co-Founder of the film production company SMUSH MEDIA, Jennifer has over 15 years of experience in television and filmmaking. She began her career as a staff Editor at CBS, both in New York and San Francisco. Her work has aired nationally on PBS, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, Sundance Channel, and many other television networks. Her films have been accepted into many major film festivals including SXSW, Rotterdam, and Sundance. Jennifer won a Telly Award and has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing.

Most recently, Jennifer directed, produced and edited the feature-length documentary film MOTHERLAND, which had its world premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, winning the prestigious Emerging Visions Audience Award. The film went on to win several other best-of-festival awards and was released by Vanguard Cinema in December of 2009.

Yael Melamede

Yael is a co-founder of SALTY Features, an independent production company based in New York City whose goal is to create media that is vital and enhances the world. Her producer credits include the film INOCENTE, directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short; BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN, written and directed by John Krasinski and based on the book by David Foster Wallace; THE INNER LIFE OF MARTIN FROST, written and directed by Paul Auster; and MY ARCHITECT, directed by Nathaniel Kahn and nominated for an Academy Award in 2004.  Yael was trained and worked as an architect before becoming a filmmaker. 

Diana Iles Parker

Diana is the founder of Spoken Media, a documentary film marketing outreach company and has been involved in the success of a diverse slate of important doc films, most recently James Redford’s The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia (premiered on HBO October 29, 2012) and Robert Redford’s Watershed about the declining Colorado River and what can be done to reconnect the river to the sea. Other film projects include Something Ventured, Central Park Effect, MINE, Motherland, and Beijing Taxi. In addition to films, Diana is a Partner at SpeakingPhoto, a unique photo app that allows people to add sound to their photos. Diana lives in Mill Valley, California with her husband and two sons.

Dean Karnazes

Executive Producer

TIME magazine named Dean Karnazes as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Men’s Fitness hailed him as one of the fittest men on the planet. An internationally recognized endurance athlete and NYC bestselling author, Dean has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He’s run across Death Valley in 120 degree temperatures, and he’s run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he’s run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve.

His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.

Dean and his incredible adventures have been featured on 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, The Howard Stern Show, NPR’s Morning Edition, the BBC, and many others. He has appeared on the cover of Runner’s World and Outside, and been featured in TIME, Newsweek, People, GQ, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Men’s Journal, Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and the London Telegraph, to mention a few. He is a monthly columnist for Men’s Health, the largest Men’s publication in the world.

Sevan Matossian

Director of Photography

Sevan has filmed and produced for TLC, Discovery & History Channel and produced, directed and edited three very successful shows for ESPN (which have re-aired more than 100 times). He has made commercials, promotional pieces and four feature-length documentaries. He has filmed in over 45 countries and in some of the most isolated and diverse corners of the globe.

 Sevan’s first film, the feature-length documentary OUR HOUSE, screened at more than 30 film festivals around the world, winning awards at many of them. His most recent film, PULLING JOHN, premiered to sold out audiences at the 2009 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, and was hailed as “One of the Top Ten Must-See Films” of the festival.

Jessica Congdon


Jessica has worked as a commercial and film editor for the past 14 years. She co-wrote and edited MISS REPRESENTATION, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, which premiered in the 2011 Sundance Documentary Competition. She also co-directed and edited the documentary RACE TO NOWHERE by Vicki Abeles. Other documentary features include SPEED AND ANGELS directed by Peyton Wilson, and MOTHERLAND directed by Jennifer Steinman.

Jessica edited the feature film DOPAMINE directed by Mark Decena, an award-winning film at Sundance 2003. She edited the international feature film SEARCH in Stockholm, and the Columbia Tri-Star feature film BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY in Berlin, both directed by Maria von Heland. As a commercial editor, she is a founding editor of Umlaut Films in San Francisco. She has edited television campaigns for national and international clients.

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