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Bicycle Film Festival 2011
10.10.11 by Jontyponty

The tenth annual Bicycle Film Festival was riotous, but began inauspiciously. I arrived with my brother, and after I’d locked our bikes up I chucked him the keys, watching them describe a perfect arc before clattering down a drain by his feet.

The audience for the ‘Urban Shorts’ 9pm showing consisted almost exclusively of couriers. It was a tough crowd, and the mix of films was, as is traditional, variable. One told the story of a messenger from NYC who got off his bike one day and began to sing an operatic aria. He was largely ignored by passers by, but claimed to have had some sort of religious experience whilst singing. Then he cycled off.

There were plenty of breathless evocations of the wonderment of fixie bikes and courier culture and so on; of ‘living in the moment’; and of the connection between bike, rider and road (‘Premium Rush!’ was the recurring refrain from the audience when things got particularly purple). The clichés of courier culture are so staid as to have become totemic, and yet there is something comforting about the seasonal re-hashing of such sentiments.

Spike Jonze had made a film about skateboarder Mike Gonzales, who was attempting to perfect a kick-flip on a bicycle. He didn’t ever quite manage it but said some funny stuff along the way. Some of the other films were very flimsily associated with bikes. A few I didn’t understand and can’t really remember. One I’ve subsequently looked up on the BFF website was called ‘Fire Bear Works’ and is described as ‘a film that offers a poetic twist of the musical genre’. ‘The plot’ I read:

…explores the commonplace theme of love. Richard is in pursuit, riding his bike searching for his ideal lover, Betty. Although Richard never gets to meet Betty, it is through his imagination that we get to experience who she is and watch her dance across the weird magical landscape of Florida.

It got a terrible reception, and I can’t say I experienced who Betty was, nor what the masks were for, nor why bicycles were involved. Some sexy dancing occurred, however.

One of the most beautifully shot films documented the Wolf Pack Marathon Crash alleycat, a race run on the course of the L.A. marathon at four in the morning. Dog tags are awarded to the winners, and some of them seemed to take it all very seriously indeed (the most serious were greeted by cries of ‘waaanker!’ by a largely appreciative crowd). Lucas Brunelle offered us his usual compendium of helmet-cam action, racing through the medina in Marrakech and showing highlights from the 2010 CMWCs, which took place in Guatamala. We await his feature film with baited breath.

The highlight, of course, was Overdrive’s and Vojtek’s film about the LCEF, and a general hush fell across the auditorium as the great and the good of London couriers told us what the fund was and what it meant to them. Loud cheers were heard. Eyes were moist. Things became too much for some and a scuffle broke out, prompting a security guard to wade in and chuck someone out. The house lights went up and everyone thought the show was over, but eventually the projector was switched back on and we watched the last few films in a happy daze.

Outside afterwards, my brother used an improvised grappling hook to retrieve his keys from the drain, whilst Ryan cycled through the Barbican with no clothes on. On the way to the after party in Hoxton Wookie got hit by a taxi, buckling his back wheel. We debated the finer points of traffic law with the driver, who drove off in a huff. Later a mass brawl broke out on Hoxton Street, and the police turned up. ‘It’s a sad ending’ I said to Bill, pissed and sentimental. ‘Well, it’s an ending’ he replied.

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  1. The fall out from the night’s events is ongoing – see this:


    — Bill    10 October 2011, 14:57    #
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