CULTURE

Wheelchair user’s view of the world

Austrian documentary filmmaker Martin Bruchs is confined to a wheelchair and his latest project, «Handbikemovie» is his way of showing the world what his view is like. The film, to be screened at the Danaos cinema during this year’s annual Premiere Nights film festival in Athens (17-26 September), is the result of countless journeys Bruchs has taken around the world in his hand-pedaled, tricycle wheelchair with a camera attached to a Russian military helmet – viewers see the world as he has seen it since 1992, when multiple sclerosis forced him into the wheelchair. The film will also be screened during a special event taking place in the context of the Paralympic Games at the central Olympic Village, in the presence of Bruchs. The screening is held under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity and Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis. The 43-year-old Bruchs worked as a sound technician on several feature films, but his failing health meant he gradually had to give up his line of work and move around, at first on a scooter and then in a wheelchair. His experience helped him see the world from a different angle. Initially, he showed this world through photographs, holding several exhibitions, and publishing a book of his photographs, «Bruchlandungen.» «Handbikemovie» is his first film on the subject and for it he threw himself into the heart of several big cities for one year, moving among the traffic of Vienna, New York, London, Paris and Istanbul, from which he gleaned 56 unedited shots that convey the sheer difficulty of getting around a city in a wheelchair. He highlights events such as almost being arrested in New York while trying to cross Washington Bridge because three-wheeled vehicles are not allowed to circulate on highways and bridges in the American state. But what else was he supposed to do when faced with signs that said «cars only» or «pedestrians only»? He says: «For the past five years I have been moving around in my hand bike in all weather. I have traveled 16,000 kilometers among cars whose drivers remain unknown behind the reflection of their windows. As a traveler who is slower than others, especially uphill, but almost equally fast downhill, I have experienced the road in its ups and downs, in silence, loneliness and isolation – but not without having some fun too.»