Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Chosen Champion Trailer

The Chosen Champion Trailer from Brett Garamella on Vimeo.


Two weeks ago I flew to Chicago with my friend Patrick McGowan to shoot a documentary on Estaifan Shilaita, former Iraqi boxing champion who traveled to America in pursuit of a better life and religious freedom. Though his story is unique, Shilaita shares many of the same feelings of Iraqi refugees from around the world. We are hoping to finish this documentary by August so stay tuned.

94 comments:

Anonymous said...

When is the documentary going to be released?

Anonymous said...

How funny. I caught a cab to the airport today and he was my driver. He made me guess where he was from and I cheated and googled on my phone, based on his name. He caught me, hehe. But that's how I found out he was a former boxing champion.

Katie said...

I jumped into Estaiphan's cab this evening in the rainy weather. He was absolutely charming and very funny. 15min into the ride he unveiled his new documentary. I can't wait to see it on the BIG screen!!

Sylvia K said...

My husband & I were recently in Chicago and caught Estaiphan's cab to the airport. We also played a "guessing game" (we lost) and he told us about this documentary. We found him to be intelligent, charming and a very passionate individual. The ride was entertaining for sure!

Anonymous said...

My Husband and I were in Chicago and trying to take a picture and Estaifan was sitting there and volunteered to take the picture of both of us. After this he started to talk to us about his documentary. He wrote down his name and said "google me later". A very nice and pleasant man.

Beth said...

How's the documentary coming? He was my cab driver last weekend and I would LOVE to see it!!!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see this! I caught his cab out of O'Hare this past weekend and was fascinated by his story. He guessed that I was Greek and we spoke Greek for half the ride. He said he learned the language from his trainers while he was boxing in Greece for a few years after he fled Iraq. He is genuinely a good soul and I wish him and this documentary all the best.

Anonymous said...

I just met Estaifan this afternoon on the way to the airport, and his story is really interesting. Wish him all the best, and cannot wait to see the documentary. Thank you!!!

Brian said...

I caught Estaifan's cab outside my office this week on my way to Northwestern memorial hospital. He is a joy to be around and i wish him and this documentary all the best!

Can't wait to see the final cut!

Brian said...

Just met Estaifan on our way to Ditka's for Valentine's dinner! We have not had a more entertaining ride in a long time. We wish him much luck!

Anonymous said...

Rainy Chicago night jumped in cabbie with famous Iraqi boxer. Best of Luck in his new life in America. Will see his documentary.

Joe from Pitt said...

Of all the cabs in Chicago, I jump in yesterday and am greeted by a wonderful man who truly entertained me and ultimately inspired me on way to Midway. He did the guessing game thing and I got really close but not exact without a few hints and according to Estaifan, "this is America and 3 strikes, your out". Really a great story of faith and perseverance and I look forward to seeing the film. Got his number and he will surely be my driver next time in town!

Jim j said...

Estaifan took us to Rush University Hsp from mdw this morning. great story. I will watch for your film

Jim j said...

Estaifan took us to Rush University Hsp from mdw this morning. great story. I will watch for your film

Sean said...

March 22, 2011 8:30am
Estaifan must get around because he picked me up this morning. He is a wonderful person and a great talker. He is very proud of what he has done in his life and he should be. Of all the things I think he is most proud would be coming to the USA. As an immigrant myself I understand when he said this country offers people an opportunity in their lives. I wish him much success and happiness in his life and hope our paths cross again soon.

Lisa said...

Estaifan is living proof that God sends blessings in the least expected ways. Estaifan, continue to be that light that we are called to be. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

When will the Chosen Champion be released? I am very anxious to support a wonderful man!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have known Estaifan for years as he has been my husband's "go to" cabbie for several years. Estaifan has become a part of our family...among many other things, we hired him to drive friends and family at our wedding, he drove me to every OB appointment when I was pregnant with my daughter, he drove to pick up keys from my friend on the other side of town when I locked myself out of my house with my daughter (and the husband was out of town), he attended my daughter's first birthday party and most recently, drove us straight to the emergency room from the airport when my daughter had an injury during the trip. He then called to check up on us to make sure that my daughter was okay. He is a wonderful man and truly serves to bless many. Can't wait to see this documentary.

Joshua said...

With my girlfriends car in the shop and my car that just died the night before, things weren't all that great. Almost May and it's cold and rainy outside as I started to walk back home from after getting some tools to hopefully fix my car...there he was. I flagged him down and he picked me up. Meeting Estaifan was a great experience. He has so much positive energy that the gloomy world outside us stayed outside. I wish that my ride was longer. Thanks Estaifan!!!

Cathy said...

On Saturday, April 23rd four of us were shopping down in Chinatown and wanted a cab back to the city. We were lucky enough to see Estaifan just drop some other people off (everyone told us it would be hard to get a cab back into the city) I believe God placed him there that day. He is truly an amazing man with so much positive energy and a great smile. It was so much fun being in his cab. We had some wonderful laughs, even though we couldn't guess where he was from. He reminds us why were should all be so proud to be here in the great USA. Thanks Estaifan!

Pete & Sue said...

Hailed a cab to get from train to hotel, Estaifan picked us up. Asked if we needed ride to airport next day, so figured why not. By time our short trip to hotel was done, we HAD to ride with him the next day to get the answer to where is was from. We promised not to google him. My wife guessed Mesopotamia (however its spelled) and it was real neat to see the smile on his face because of how close her answer was to Babylon. Wonderful person, wonderful attitude. He'll get my business each Chicago trip. KNow I have to find the movie.

Anonymous said...

Have you had a great experience with Estaifan that you would like to share? Email us at chosenchampionfilm@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

We have just arrived from Brazil and we are in his taxi right now. What an wonderful story proving that we never know when the live will leave us. Wishing luck for Estaifan and his movie.

Anonymous said...

I hitched a ride with Esteban and really want to see this documentary!!!

rebeccalovesbubbles said...

Estaifan is an amazing person! I rode with him this evening, and this is our third trip together. He mentioned I'm the first customer he's picked up three times. Chicago can be such a small place sometimes. I hope those numbers are winners for you Estaifan!

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting this man. He was our cab driver as we were returning to Union Station to catch the train home to Southeast Missouri. His story was inspiring and it was a great honor to make his acquaintance. All of us could learn much from his experiences and outlook on life. We should all look at our "riches" the way this man does. He is truly a beautiful soul.

Riddhi said...

Wow! Got dropped at O'Hare yesterday bu Estaifan. Cheerful fellow. Can't wait to see the film and wish him all the very best of luck :)

amandamousa said...

Had the chance to meet Estifan today and he is truly one of a kind! Wishing our fellow Babylonian all the best! God bless!

Catherine said...

I was recently in Estaiphan's cab. He was the most pleasant person I have ever met! His story is amazing and I would love to see this your end product of his story!

Gino said...

Was in his cab yesterday. What a genuinely nice guy. Almost guessed his question. Soo close! Wish my cab ride was a little bit longer.

LibraryLisa said...

On a girls' trip to Chicago to see Rosie O's new show, we caught Estaifan's cab to Harp Studios. We were all instantly entralled by his mysterious quiz game about his heritage and by his charm and contagious joy. In that short ride, we learned some history, some geography, some religion, and something about life and the wisdom of people who truly live it. I want to see this film! I hope it does as well as Estaifan has.

Jeff said...

What a gracious host for the city of Chicago. I was fortunate enough to jump into his cab from Midway to my hotel in the Theater district. Quite a charmer, yet sincere. Estafain, thank you for your wisdom and grace, I'll talk politics (or sports) any time with you.

Christine said...

I had the absolute pleasure to meet Estaifan yesterday. He is a gracious host, an ambassador for Chicago, and a proud husband and father. His story is inspiring and I consider myself better for meeting him.

ridhi said...

I had a great cab right with Estaifan. He truly has a one inspiring story. A very wise man, husband and a proud father. We all can learn from him and his story. I look forward to the film festival. God bless and good luck to you...will look forward to more rides with him :) happy thanksgiving to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

We had the pleasure of meeting Estaifan just by chance today when getting into a cab downtown. "This is my own cash cab" he told us, "if you answer right I'll give you a free ride today." my mother, who is a huge history fanatic, couldn't figure it out and we only got it right after our third strike. What a charming and strong man, it was so sweet to hear how he talks about his wife and children, can not wait for this documentary to come out! Estaifan I know your reading this, happy holidays to you and your family! All our best, "the Italian girl" and her family

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very entertaining cab ride! What a wonderful, charming man. You can feel the passion and warmth in his voice when he speaks. I guessed wrong of course, and upon finally reaching my destination I told him to keep on entertaining the world and that's when Estaifan told me about the documentary and made me google him on my blackberry. I would love to see this documentary one day!

Anonymous said...

What a blessed and insightful cab ride. I had the honor to ride with a 'star'. Estaifan's story was incredibly moving and uplifting. As I paid my fare and said my goodbyes..there was a part of me that didn't want to leave and just listen to all his stories. It's a cab ride I will never forget. All the best-'Star'

Anonymous said...

This guy is fantastic. Please tell me this documentary is already out or coming out soon. My friend and I caught his cab on our way to a Bears game. We played the guessing game with him and finally figured it out. He told us his story and my friend and I were both amazed to learn about his incredible legacy. We even got to see the medal that he won in Iraq for boxing. Hoping we can see this documentary soon.

Alex and Ben

Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig said...

I rode with him from O'Hare to my downtown hotel on December 16. Incredible story, incredible man. I shared my experience here: http://treerootandtwig.com/2011/12/20/meet-chicago-cabb-estaifan-shilaita/ (ps: I work in social media and would love to do what I can to get his story/the documentary out there!)

Anna said...

Estaifan gave me a ride to Michigan Ave. the other day. He was very entertaining to talk to--couldn't have asked for a better driver! I am posting on here so he can show his wife the girl that had the same name as her. All the best of luck and Merry Christmas!

Anna

Kevin Y said...

I had Estaifan as a cab driver tonight. He is a great guy and full of knowledge in all aspects of life. I hope all is well.

Kevin

Kevin Y said...

I had Estaifan as a cab driver tonight. He is a great guy and full of knowledge in all aspects of life. I hope all is well.

Kevin

Kevin Y said...

I had Estaifan as a cab driver tonight. He is a great guy and full of knowledge in all aspects of life. I hope all is well.

Kevin

Fast Johnny said...

So I caught a cab to go to dinner with my girlfriend little did I know that I was going to have the best cab driver ever. This was December 22 and we. Had the best ride ever. Estaifan had us answer a few questions on where he was from and we would get a free cab ride. We didn't get the questions right but we did get to learn about his life. Ths man is a very big inspiration and he gives a true meaning to. The pursuit of happiness. Whenever his documentary comes out everyone should watch it cuse it is a great one.

Jennifer O. said...

Totally charmed by Estaifan en route to O'Hare this morning. What a wonderful human being. I can't wait to see the movie!

Christago said...

Was picked up in the am yesterday by Estaifan. Fascinating guy and very inspirational!

Anonymous said...

got picked up by Esaifan yesterday. Amazing man to go along with his amazing story. This documentary needs to be made and released. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

What a privilege to have such a wonderful conversation on the way home from work on a winter Friday night - the most entertaining cab ride I think I've ever had - thank you and good luck with the film, Estaifan!

sergio said...

I was so fortunate to meet Estaifan today. During my very short ride to the John Hancock building - less than 10 minutes - we talked passionately about boxing, soccer, religion and freedom. It was as if we'd known each other for years. Estaifan is not a cab driver; he's a transcendent force who makes those he meets all the better for the brief experience.

croe said...

Let's make the movie! Estaifan is a celebrity!

Deepak said...

He is awesome man, met him last week, waiting for his be released, All the best...........!!

Anonymous said...

My brush with fame!!! Best cab driver ever, and I'm not saying thing because he can kick my butt. :)

Anonymous said...

He is a reall interesting man... I can't wait to see the documentary! -jenna

Mary said...

What a kind soul Estaifan is! I had the pleasure of meeting him today and hearing a bit of his story. Estaifan - I wish you so much luck at the upcoming film festival and can't wait to see your documentary!

Sally Schwartz said...

what a beautiful guy, love him and his positive energy, can't wait to see his movie and learn more about his amazing story :)

Anonymous said...

So nice to start your day with a person like Estaifan! I can't wait to see the documentary. And I'm definitely calling him later when I need a ride out to ORD!

Anonymous said...

Best cab driver ever. Nice guy and very amazing life story.

Anonymous said...

We are on our way to the airport now on his cab. He gave us a ride yesterday and we were able to get him today for our airport ride. He is charming and entertaining. Can't wait to see his documentary.

Anonymous said...

I am in the cab now. I guessed correctly after a lot clues. :)

CatharticBlogger said...

In Estaifan's cab right now! Coolest guy ever and amazing story. Can't wait to see his documentary!

Anonymous said...

My friends and I had the pleasure of getting in Estaifan's cab and it made our day. He was such a gentle soul willing to share his wisdom with strangers. What a blessing to the community and to everyone lucky enough to come into contact with him. I look forward to seeing your documentary Estaifan and thanks for being an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Estaifan is by far the nicest, most knowledgeable and 'famous' for that matter cab driver I've ever had.

I had the privilege of hearing his amazing story directly from his mouth on a recent trip from the Loop to ORD.

Wish him nothing but the best, and looking forward to seeing this documentary.

-Dominick

Anonymous said...

I had Estaifan as my cab driver yesterday. Of all the cabs in Chicago I was picked up by him and asked him to please take me to Midway so I could get my flight home after a long, tiring 2 day trip for work. As we sat in rush hour traffic he excitedly started his game and story and I became less tired and more interested. What an amazing story and an amazing man. Best cab ride I ever had and will never forget.

Thanks Estaifan!
Kris

Anonymous said...

Me and my sister were heading to cta to ride the train to head to the white sox ballpark, but i didn't know which line to take. I tried asking, but no luck. So i was like well i guess lets get a Taxi. So we did and Estaifan was our driver and it was a very fun experience. He was funny and very nice! He then told me and my sister he was a star so i kinda didn't believe it. So then he ask me to google it, which i did and found out he has a movie coming out and that everything he said wasn't a lie.I couldnt believe it. It was such a blessing. Thanks Estaifan

Angel & Sandy

Anonymous said...

Shocker...He was our cab driver. Genuinely the nicest guy.

Linda from MN said...

Estaifan is indeed a star! With or without a documentary this mans charm, charisma, and infectious spirit as well as his love of this country send him to the top.
Thanks for a memorable cab ride sir! I enjoyed it immensely

Anonymous said...

I rode in his cab a while back on my wat to a trade show, and it was an absolute pleasure.

Nathan Stewart said...

Estaifan picked me up at the airport and started off with a simple joke ("do you know what Tuesday is? It's triple fare day"). It's strange, but sometimes you meet the most amazing people when you least expect it. Estaifan persistence for me to Google him in the cab did not go unnoticed, but unfortunately I get motion sickness easily from looking at text (screens or books) in cars and I opted to wait till I made it to my hotel. I wish I had taken his advice and Googled him in the cab, because his life story is quite remarkable. Perhaps he will be available for a pick up on my way back to the airport.

Des Ryan said...

Just got out of his cab in Chicago !! What a man, what a story!

Lauren said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Estaifan yesterday as he drove me to the airport. What an awesome man! I look forward to seeing the documentary!

Diana Maamari said...

I had pleasure of having a very nice ride with Estaifan.. awesome driver and I cant wait to see the documentary
-Diana

Juan Tamad said...

I had a great conversation with Estaifan. He is truly blessed with a great heart and is a very good man indeed. I'll be there to watch the documentary for sure.. Blessings brother.. -John

Kevin Manus said...

Good luck Estaifan... looking forward to seeing the documentary. Anythings possible, especially when you are an outgoing and friendly person like yourself!

Anonymous said...

Rode with Estaifan the other day. Great guy with an amazing story. Really looking forward to seeing the documentary!

Anonymous said...

He came into my hotel today in bloomington illinois told me to get on google n search "the chosen champion, cuz he is a star" so I finally got time to do so at work. And now I hope this movie turns out I will be there to watch :)

Anonymous said...

i rode his cab last week. What a terrific ride and fascinating story, what a life and what a man. I too guessed and while i came close, i got the area down to Iraq, however never got the right answer. what an inspiration to human courage

Anonymous said...

Met him this past weekend ! He drove us to the Art Institute. What an interesting man. Cash cab quiz as to where he was from ! Loved it. Want to see the film !

Anonymous said...

Jim Buck: We were fortunate, and honoured, to meet Estaifan in Chivago--last week. It was a magical encounter with an extraordinary man who exuded wisdom, strength, and kindness. He is the true Rustum! May his shadow never shorten.

Prodigy Ellis said...

I am a doorman at a hotel downtown
Chicago and Ive always known there was something special about this cabbie.

Xoe said...

Incredible human. I had the pleasure of riding in his cab today on the way to the airport. I lost the guessing game but am so grateful we crossed paths. We talked about hot cross buns and nimrods.

Clay Warnick said...

We love Estaifan! My wife rode with him and called me on the phone so I could talk to him. Great fighter. Great man. Great Christian. God bless this wonderful country!

Jaime Z said...

This man is the nicest cab driver ever. His credit card machine was down and I had little cash on me and he didn't even care. Most cab drivers would get upset and take off. I would have rode around with him all day if I could. Good luck at the film festival.... You are a STAR to us!!!!

Anonymous said...

Coldest day in Chicago in decades and I needed a ride from Midway to the hotel. Unbelievable luck placed me in Estaifan's cab! this guy and his story were incredible. Like every other posting, I was given the quiz (failed) and heard about his escape from Iraq, through Greece and on to Chicago. It's apparently been a couple of years since the documentary was due to be made and released but he is still filled with optimism and I promised to google his story. Best cab ride ever!

Anonymous said...

Same as the rest, got in his cab, very nice man with an amazing story...get this documentary on the big screen.

Anonymous said...

On sunday evening, what normally would have been a 35 minute cab ride from Lincoln Park to Midway became a 2 hour ride due to traffic. It was not in vain though because I got to hear all about this incredible man's journey. I am keeping him in my prayers ad do not doubt that he is doing the same for all his passengers! I feel so fortunate to have had my life enriched by Estaifan.

Anonymous said...

I met him last night and got in the guessing game and I lost :)
Such a nice man to have a conversation with he reminds me of my days growing up in Chicago with all our neighbors from different cultures and we talked to each other and we enjoy each other company .

thank you Estaifan for the enjoyable conversation

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