Broadcast May 15, 22 and 29 on NPO 2
Over the Thresholds of Europe
Starting from the question ‘How does Europe look through the eyes of its disabled citizens?’, the director Mari Sanders (a wheelchair user himself) embarked on a journey across the continent. Along the way, Mari spoke to the people who shape the disability movement today, examining how the different European countries relate to the needs and desires of this community. In so, the miniseries builds an alternative portrait of Europe, showing time and again the power of perseverance and the need for social change.
In the first episode, Mari wonders about how his youth would have looked like if he was born in a different country than The Netherlands. He visits the state-of-the-art Sweden, but in Greece he is confronted with the "medieval horrors" of living in an institution.
In the second episode, Mari asks himself if he should try to compensate for his disability or take advantage of it. He challenges himself physically in an English Paralympic gym, investigates how humor can contribute to acceptance and experiences the power of vulnerability in Athens.
In the third and final episode, Mari reflects on how independent he can really become. He gives up his benefits, experiences the inadequate conditions in Romania and is deeply impressed by the story of a young woman in a wheelchair, who came to Europe in a rubber boat, risking her own life.
Although the European Union strives for unity, equality and shared human values, in practice these concepts still remain out of reach. At least, this is the case for the largest minority group of Europe: the 80 million people with disabilities. Depending on their country of residence, they have to carry on different fights in order to live indepently. They want to be free to be how they want to be and to live their own way, but simple actions like going to school, to work or shopping might already be a daily struggle. Their stories remain mostly hidden from the public eye.
Filmmaker Mari Sanders asks himself the question: How do the different European countries view people with a physical disability and what does that tell about us?
“The Wheelchair Roadmovie is a television series at the intersection of different genres”
"My girlfriend lives in Bucharest, so I have regularly traveled through Europe," says Mari. “We noticed how big the differences between our countires are and were curious to discover why and how that happens. That is how the idea for the series came about: a "grand tour" of Europe, to discover how different countries deal with their disabled citizens. What does that say about a society? " Chief Editor Saskia Wielinga adds: “This is the first portrait of Europe through the eyes of people with a physical impairment. A very interesting perspective, that inspires reflection. With genuine interest and his sense of humor, Mari shows us "his" world. "
The 'Wheelchair Roadmovie' is a television series on the intersection of different genres: documentary / journalism / travel program. The atmosphere is stimulating, hopeful, powerful, humorous and reflective. "We hope to inspire the viewers to treflect upon their own dreams and ideals" says Mari Sanders.
Behind the scenes
The traveling crew consisted of director and main character Mari Sanders, researcher and assistant director Simona Constantin, cameraman Rieks Soepenberg and soundist Guideon Bijlsma. Find below some "behind the scenes" materials, made during the trips.