Addicted To Life

A new documentary by Pola Rapaport and Wolfgang Held

A paralyzed Belgian athlete takes control of her slow, painful decline by planning for assisted suicide, and paradoxically becomes a world champion in sports. As her body gives way and her time left becomes unpredictable, she fights to seize the most from every remaining moment.

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Marieke Vervoort winning gold at the 2012 London Paralympics
Marieke Vervoort winning gold at the 2012 London Paralympics

Synopsis

Strong-willed, funny and charismatic, Paralympic champion Marieke Vervoort’s time is running out. As her pain grows increasingly unbearable to the point of torture, she decides to end her life by euthanasia: the controversial procedure of medically assisted death.

Liberated and empowered by the legal permission to die, Marieke discovers the strength and courage to continue to live. For over a decade, she postpones her decision to die. In her time left, as her health deteriorates, she rebels against the pain, excelling in sports, from wheelchair-basketball to triathlon, until she falls in love with wheelchair-racing and wins Gold in the Paralympic Games and World Championships. Marieke lives her life to the max, addicted to the adrenaline of international travel, media attention, a wildly physical bucket list and new relationships with people with disabilities as well as girlfriends, celebrities and fans.

With virtually unlimited access, the filmmakers intimately document this tough and astonishing athlete through the dramatic events of her final inspirational three years, during which her choice to die becomes an affirmation of life.

Credits/Bios

POLA RAPAPORT (Producer/Director) is a Fellow of both the Guggenheim Foundation and the NY Foundation for the Arts. Her award-winning films include: Nadia Comaneci: The Gymnast & the Dictator (2016, Zed Distribution, Jury Prize, Barcelona Sports Film Festival, 2017); Hair: Let the Sunshine In (2007, Kino Lorber Films); Writer of O (2004, Zeitgeist Films, Grand Prix d’URTI); Family Secret (2000, Grand Prix de la S.C.A.M. Best Doc on French television); Borken Meat (1990, premiered at Sundance; Winner, Award of the Press, Message to Man Festival; Best Cinematography, Oberhausen Film Festival; Best Documentary, New Orleans Film Festival; IDFA 3rd Edition).

Editor of many feature documentaries including Lilly Rivlin’s Heather Booth: Changing the World and Alex Sichel’s SXSW Winner, A Woman Like Me.

WOLFGANG HELD (Director of Photography) has been working as a DP in NYC since the mid-1990s. He went on the road with Sacha Baron Cohen as DP for Brüno, won an Emmy in 2008 for Best Cinematography on the PBS show Carrier, and shot Children Underground, nominated for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Held has photographed many acclaimed documentaries, including: Leonardo Di Caprio’s Before the Flood, Metallica: Some Kind of MonsterMad Hot Ballroom, Crazy Love and Wigstock: The Movie. Held has also photographed over twenty narrative feature films, including the cult favorite Teeth

MARK DAEMS (Belgian Co-producer) started his career in 1983 as a freelance director. In 1991 he co-founded independent production company Associate Directors. Associate Directors started documentary production in 2005, and has played a leading role in Flemish documentary. Lost Down Memory Lane was a box office record in Flanders and the Netherlands.

Mark’s company has co-produced German, French, Italian, Dutch and Danish films. The King of Mont Ventoux was a 4-party co-production co-financed by 10 European TV-channels, and sold to many more. Mark Daems is founding member and chairman of “Flanders Doc”, the association of documentary producers in Flanders.

Interiew with Marieke Vervoort, Paralympics 2012 gold medalist
Interiew with Marieke Vervoort, Paralympics 2012 gold medalist
Marieke at press conference in Rio de Janiero
Marieke at press conference in Rio de Janiero