Riders is the International Feature submission for Slovenia. Inspired by the VHS of “Easy Rider,” two best friends, Tomaz and Anton, live in a small village in Northeastern Slovenia, in the spring of 1999. Tomaz works at a machinery workshop while spending his free time at Church with his mother. Anton, who works at a mailroom, is constantly getting into trouble in his home and in his job. Both of them grew up fatherless, with Tomaz’ father passing away when he was young and Anton never having one.
After getting fired from his job, Anton discovers a VHS tape about two bikeriders who travel through the American Southwest. He convinces Tomaz to go on a weekend road trip to Ljubljana. After upgrading their mopeds, their journey begins. For Tomaz, this trip represents an opportunity to discover the world, while for Anton it’s a chance for a fresh new start, away from his abusive step-dad and negligent mother. For the two of them, it’s an attempt at freedom.
As their adventure to Ljubljana begins, they meet a runaway nun, Ana, and an older, more experienced biker, Peter. For Tomaz, who has never been in love before, Ana provides a chance for his first meaningful relationship. While for Peter, he recognizes himself in Anton’s anger and irritability and uses this understanding to try to hint at a path in life that could save him from self-destruction.
The absence of a father can have lasting effects on an individual. The struggles of abandonment and low self-esteem can be attributed to growing up without a dad. Some have turned to drugs, alcohol, risky sexual activities, unhealthy relationships, or other destructive behaviours to numb the pains of fatherlessness. As shown in Riders, Anton and Tomaz are the ultimate forgers of their destiny. They have to believe that they can overcome the disadvantages of growing up without a father. They are the only ones who can determine their own future.
As the road trip comes to an end, our riders have been changed forever but they still struggle with the same questions and the same restlessness that they had before their journey began. Life’s answers can’t be solved in a week, but it can be the beginning of a new chapter.