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Arts & Culture

POV: My Way To Olympia

Courtesy of Niko von Glasow
American Archer Matt Stutzman

Airs Monday, Aug. 8, 2016 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Who better to cover the Paralympics, the international sporting event for athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, than Niko von Glasow, the world’s best-known disabled filmmaker? Unfortunately—or fortunately for anyone seeking an insightful and funny documentary—this filmmaker frankly hates sports and thinks the games are “a stupid idea.”

Courtesy of Niko von Glasow
Niko watches Christiane swim.
Courtesy of Niko von Glasow
Norwegian Table Tennis Player Aida Dahlen
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Courtesy of Niko von Glasow
Greg Polychronidis and Niko

Born with severely shortened arms, von Glasow serves as an endearing guide to London’s Paralympics competition. In "My Way To Olympia"—as he meets a one-handed Norwegian table tennis player, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team, an American archer without arms and a Greek paraplegic boccia player—his own stereotypes about disability and sports are delightfully punctured.

Past episodes of POV are available for online viewing. POV is on Facebook and Google +, and you can follow @povdocs.

FILM REVIEWS:

“A fresh, funny, uplifting documentary about disabled athletes. By making himself part of the story, von Glasow enriches the film with his own life experience, but also with deadpan charm and irreverent humor.” —Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

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“[von Glasow] starts defying expectations. Because you’ve seen profiles of such athletes before, you expect straightforward interviews in which they talk about overcoming adversity. . . . The bottom line has to be this: By the film’s end, do you sense that you know these athletes’ stories and feelings better than you would have with a conventional approach? The likely answer is yes.” —Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

“This is only partially a story of the glory of sport, or the pluckiness of the physically challenged. . . . von Glasow is . . . less interested in who wins than in their family dynamics and inner life. He grows especially close to the witty and composed [Greg] Polychronidis; by the end of the film, they are more or less doing comedy together, as they sneak a game of boccia on the ancient site of the Olympics . . . and depart like busted schoolboys.” —Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“Forced to participate in athletics as a kid, [von Glasow] grew up hating sports—which doesn’t keep his film. . . from being touching, funny and even inspirational.” —New York Daily News

My Way to Olympia: Hitting the Target: Matt Stutzman

Athlete Matt Stutzman competes in archery at the London 2012 Paralympics.

My Way to Olympia: The Athlete: Aida Husic Dahlen

Table tennis player Aida Husic Dahlen represents Norway in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

My Way to Olympia: The Ball of Boccia: Greg Polychronidis

Paraplegic boccia player Greg Polychronidis competes for gold in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

My Way to Olympia: Hanging Tough: Rwandan Volleyball Team

Rwanda's sitting volleyball team competes in the London 2012 Paralympics.

My Way to Olympia: Validating the Paralympics

Paralympian Greg Polychronidis explains to filmmaker Niko von Glasow his motivations for competing in the Games.

My Way to Olympia: And I Achieved It

Filmmaker Niko von Glasow and athlete Greg Polychronidis discuss disabilities and sports.

My Way To Olympia - Trailer

"Who better to cover the Paralympics than a disabled filmmaker who hates sports and deems the games “stupid?” When Niko von Glasow meets the Rwandan sitting volleyball team and an American archer without arms