Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Frontier Cyclist, vol. 6: Bicycle Film Festival

Our Frontier Photographer pal bought a bike yesterday and rode from Manhattan to Williamsburg for the FP Mem Day BBQ. He also told us about the Bicycle Film Festival. Not a bad first day in Bike Club.

The Bicycle Film Festival in New York includes more than 70 films over four days (June 16-20), all screening at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. The program features a host of bike subcultures, from messengers to racers, rickshaw drivers to bike polo players, fixed gear to cyclocross. There are homages to urban riding in London, Lisbon, Vancouver, Budapest, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as rural journeys through Ontario and the South African bushveld. For the true geek, there are several short films about the guys who build the spokes and frames that most riders take for granted. Finally, BFF provides valet bike parking at all screenings. (We valet parked at a concert last summer in Austin. It was excellent, if odd.)

Now in its tenth year, the Bicycle Film Festival was born when New York cyclist Brendt Barbur was hit by a bus and started the festival as a way to deal with the incident. Much of the program consists of films less than 10 minutes in length. Among the feature-length films are two documentaries: Jeff Tremaine's"Birth of Big Air" pays tribute to BMX legend Matt Hoffman; Stephen Auerbach's "Bicycle Dreams" documents the Race Across America, where riders cross the country in 10 days. That's 300 miles per day, people.

There's also a strain of activist films. "Still We Ride" documents the arrest of 264 Critical Mass riders  days before the 2004 Republican National Convention. "Constant Movement" follows taxi bike drivers in Cuba. And "The Bristol Bike Project" looks at a U.K. version of our own Recycle a Bicycle.

Most of the films on the program were made in the last few years. One exception is the classic "A Sunday In Hell" (1976), in which Danish director follows the annual Paris-Roubaix road race.

And speaking of bikes on the big screen, here's one of our favorite scenes, the opening of Les Mistons (1957), the first film by the legendary Francois Truffaut.

And in case you think The Bicycle Thief is only the title of a famous film, consider Igor Kenk, who ran an operation that stole nearly 3,000 bikes. Kenk, who was released from jail this spring, is the subject of a short film at BFF. Time to get a lock.

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