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The dispatchables

Somewhere in Amsterdam there is an extraordinary bike courier company. The amiable but disorganized Stanley manages this company and the motley crew of employees. Every courier has their own reasons for peddling around the city with their freight. And their own secret dreams…
No matter the weather and often with a healthy aversion, the employees swarm around Amsterdam; a city scarred by the increasing gap between the haves and have nots. Founder and planner Stanley Winter, who lost his legs as a child and moves around on crutches or his small electric vehicle, is always fretting about business. For him, the company is way more than the means to make a living. It is his life.
At base camp, the couriers give each other a hard time with harsh jokes and petty quarrels. Like a real family, they find it impossible to live with or without each other. Luckily, the local residents frequently drop in and interfere with matters. Upstairs neighbour Laura for example, whom Stanley is infatuated with.

Award-winning documentary series 'The Dispatchables' (5 x 45 minutes) shows the daily life of the couriers who try to make their way through the city and through life itself. Every episode focuses on Stanley and one other courier. The series deals with topics like loneliness, inclusion, and social inequality. Narrated by actor Raymond Thiry (Quo Vadis Aida?, Penoza, Das Netz).

Winner of the Dutch Directors Guild award 2023 for best documentary series. Nominated for the Prix Europa 2023 (ceremony in October)

Episode 1: A Small Universe
The busy month of December is just around the corner, but things are going far from smoothly. Stanley is worried about the solidarity and work attitude of the bike couriers and calls for a meeting that reveals many of the reasons causing tension. Luckily Stanley has Laura in his life, the upstairs neighbour and his muse, to make things bearable. To ease the work pressure among the couriers Stanley places a vacancy.

Episode 2: Reading Tea Leaves
An interesting applicant responds to the vacancy, but Stanley also has to deal with a new problem: Nanne, his oldest courier, is having more and more problems with heavy deliveries. This comes at a bad time, because around Christmas a tremendous amount of boxes with wine need to be delivered. Stanley makes a big investment, one that creates new concerns. When Nanne comes home after a long day at work, he ponders the decisions he made in his life.

Episode 3: Dreamers
While Stanley starts an intensive rehabilitation trajectory so he can learn to walk properly, he discovers that his infatuation with Laura is not working out as well as he had in mind. Bike messenger Rolf tries to make his way through life but does not know what he wants to do with his future. When he visits his parents in ‘het Gooi’, one of the richest areas in the Netherlands, he does not have to count on any support for his decision to keep working as a bike courier.

Episode 4: Separate Worlds
Stanley is grumpy. For a little while it seemed that things were going well with the business and his life, but he has to deal with several new setbacks. Maciej, the Polish courier who is often at odds with Stanley, is unhappy about his life. He finds it frustrating that he makes so little money serving rich people.

Episode 5: Golden Mountains
As spring arrives Stanley makes up the balance. Several couriers have quit, but luckily there are new arrivals, and one of them is Edwige. Slowly but surely Stanley starts to accept the fact that Laura, the woman of his dreams, is having a relationship with somebody else. Rolf and Nanne both take an advance on the future in their own way.

  • Halil Ibrahim Özpamuk
  • Eva van Pelt
  • Nicoline Tania
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television
  • Genres:
    Romance, drama, comedy
  • Runtime:
    45 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 23, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Dutch, English, Polish
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Dutch national television

    December 26, 2022
Distribution Information
  • Dutch Core
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Halil Ibrahim Özpamuk, Eva van Pelt

Halil Ibrahim Özpamuk (1978) studied Media and Culture in the University of Amsterdam. His love for cinema and photography brought him to make his first documentary about elderly boxers in a boxing school in his home town Rotterdam, accompanied by a photo series. He then worked several years as a researcher and director for the internationally acclaimed documentary series Backlight (VPRO). Each episode focusses on remarkable shifts in society, (geo)politics, economy, technology or culture, and their long-term consequences. His fascination for cultures that are on the brink of extinction might have to do with his family's background. His father came to Rotterdam as an immigrant worker and became part of a new sub-culture that is rapidly disappearing as that generation is getting older and gentrification sets in. With Dutch-Turkish author Özan Akcol he made a successful series about modern Turkey for Dutch national tv (NTR).

Eva van Pelt (1981) graduated from the Dutch Film academy as a documentary director. In her (short) documentaries she likes to focus on people who are trying to rise above themselves in any way, big or small. Character-driven stories with a dry comical tone of voice. For the Dutch humanist broadcasting company she developed and directed several documentary series with philosopher Stine Jensen. In these series, relevant themes in modern society are explored using the life experiences of ordinary people - the questions raised are more important than the answers. She is fascinated by the changing European identity fueled by an increasing awareness of the colonial past. On that subject she is now shooting a documentary about Indonesian cinema where the colonial era is used as backdrop for heroic biopics and horror.

The documentary series 'The Dispatchables' is Halil’s and Eva’s first collaboration as directors.

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Director Statement

We met founder Stanley through our friend; the poet Bernard Wesseling who worked as a courier at the foundation for many years. He came home with stories about the chaos, the comradery and the socio-economic divide in society you have to deal with every day as a courier because of the very different journeys. All ingredients for a great documentary we thought, especially around the holidays; the busiest time of the year for bicycle couriers.

We decided early on that we wanted to follow Stanley and a number of couriers for a year so we could capture the course of the seasons and more importantly: everyone's hopes and dreams. What we found very special was that during this year big, life-changing events actually happened to the protagonists and they allowed us to be part of it.

There is so much to get depressed about when you turn on the TV or read the newspaper, but the idea that there is a place like Fietskoeriers-Amsterdam gives us hope. As upstairs neighbour Laura puts it: 'this place is a small universe where everyone can be themselves.' In the city of Amsterdam where people are increasingly measured on the scale of winners and losers that is a rarity - and worth dwelling on for that reason alone. Besides, there is a lot of humour in the story, so anyone in the mood for an urban fairytale full of hope and love should definitely watch it.