My Way to Olympia

PBS Premiere: July 7, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Interview

Filmmaker Niko Von Glasow discusses the making of POV's My Way to Olympia, his views on sports and the disabled, and his wish for his film.

Niko Von Glasow: My Way to Olympia is basically the story of me finding out everything about the Paralympics. And I don't like sport, I haven't ever been to any sport event. And what I find there is friendship and a lot of amazing people.

I made My Way to Olympia because I'm a filmmaker. I made lots of movies. And I live in London and there came the Paralympics. And as you can see, I am disabled and so I started to go. And I just was so curious, what drives people to do so mad things? Training and nearly killing themselves, why do they do this?

I found that sport people are basically insane, and disabled sport people are even more insane. Because maybe we all have to compensate a little bit our problems. And it's just a very crazy world. But on the other side, it's a world of so much love and tenderness and so extremely nice people. It's absolutely fascinating.

My Way to Olympia is basically about feelings, about love and compassion. And the will to win, to prove to the world and basically to God or whoever that we are worth something. It's that we are special in a world of very difficult. The world of disabled people is on side, it's really shit. And on the other side it is beautiful. It is even more beautiful than normal people. So there is, this is it about. It's about the darkness and the beauty of life of disabled people.

When I started My Way to Olympia, I was really very skeptical about the Paralympics, because I didn't know anything about the Paralympics. It's a show for the world. Oh here, we do every four years something for disabled people. They can run around a little bit and you know, we clap. And then we forget about them after four years. And then four years again, yeah. But it's not the case. The case is the Paralympics was the best party I ever been to. It's a lovely event. And it's amazingly important.

If I would be King of the World, I would say on every TV, you should show, every day, one hour of disabled people. Because when you are with me, let's say one day, you will forget that I am disabled. So the presence of disabled people in our everyday life is so immensely important. And if we cut out any disability, old people suffering, we will suffer immensely. It comes back, it will hunt us down if we live only in the world of perfection and beauty. That will, that's no good for people. So people should have contact with people who are not perfect. It's basically boring to be with perfect people because My Way to Olympia is such a lighthearted film, mainly. People have access to this subject of disability. In a world where everybody looks the same, and it's kind of uniform. And where we all have to pretend that we are normal. When you are obviously not normal, you have to be honest. The people who are so-called normal, they're not normal. They are alcoholics, phobics, idiots, whatever. But they have to pretend all day long. I don't have to pretend because I can't pretend my arms are long. They are short, it's true. So that makes me a little bit less a liar. And living with this facade of lying, it's no good for people. Take the facade down and be honest, and that makes disabled people or people who are a bit different so interesting.

You know once you say publicly, I'm an alcoholic, I am disabled, I am what I am, you go through this wall and then you're liberated. I tried to be as close as possible to the people. I was not mainly into sport. I told my camera people, look at the eyes. I'm not interested at their disability. I am interested what's in their eyes, what's the smile, what is the fear. And I didn't want to make a beautiful film. You know I didn't want to make a Leni Riefenstahl propaganda movie for disabled people. I wanted to make a very honest and close to my heart film, that style.

If I could have a wish for my film, My Way to Olympia, what the people should go, take home is fun. It's don't be afraid of disabled.