The legendary Dakar Rally scarcely needs explanation, as a perennial cross-country, off-road race from Europe to Africa, with exact beginning and finishing points that vary geographically from year to year. Director Nikolaus Geyrhalter's 7915 km embodies one of the premier documentaries inspired by this competition; the titular distance refers to a mileage span within the 2007 Dakar, the 7,915 km (or just over 4,900 miles) from Lisbon to Dakar. Geyrhalter teamed up with his associates to spend a reported sixteen weeks on the route, not during the race but in its aftermath. The resultant cinematic document functions as a sociological portrait of the lands traversed by the race, the homes of long-forgotten cultures, villages, indigenes and ways of life - locales such as the Saharan Republic ande the Moroccan desert. Geyrhalter begins by honing in exclusively on the impact of the race on various locals (their impressions of it, the ways in which their lives were impacted or altered by it, et cetera), though over the course of the film its focus shifts to concentrate more exclusively on the lifestyles and personalities of those encountered, turning the documentary into a transcontinental series of unique sociological portraits. Throughout, a poignant contrast forms between the attitudes victory-seekers who participated in the race, and those Africans living on the margins of society who merely long for a nobler life.
by Nathan Southern synopsis