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Bicycle Film Festival weekend
21.10.07 by Buffalo Bill

photo Anna B

I missed most of it, cause I was working. Managed to get to the 9pm screening last night. Brendt billed this program as the ‘bike porn’ screening, and as I was going in, he called out to me, ‘hey Bill, are you ready for some testosterone? Are you ready for the outlaws?’

Because of some other event that was taking place in Paris last night, the cinema was not as full as it could have been. As it turned out, I think that the Messenger Progam would have provided more satisfying entertainment than 30 grown men quarrelling over the destination of a ball.

The nature of a film festival, particularly a festival featuring so many short films, is that the content will be varied, as will the quality. If one of the shorts wasn’t altogether to your taste, at least it wouldn’t last too long, and there was bound to be at least one, if not two, films that gave you a nice warm feeling inside, like what you get when you find a nice 2nd hand British steel frame in your size for under £100 at a jumble.

I got that feeling from the very first short, Ski Boys. Beautifully and inventively filmed, the Boys pull all kind of ridiculous and pointless stunts on butchered machines, often wearing outfits that mixed the functional with the absurd. Possibly a little long, the film did not glorify the hazardous and meaningless undertakings of the Ski Boys, but it did show affection and wit.

Roller Race
I helped in the making of this one. I won’t say too much about it except that it was very strange to see it on the big screen. Because the footage of the races was cobbled together from many different sources, the quality kept jumping around. Wierd to be the subject and the object and the viewer.

An Apology from the Niestat Brothers
I loved the Niestats’ film in last year’s festival. This one was much shorter, but equally funny. They made prats of themselves trying to make a prat out of breakfast news reporter in New York on live TV, and this was their apology for being prats. Hilarious!

Track Kaiju
The last time I saw Mike D, he was issuing threats. You wait til Urban Death Maze 8 comes out, he snarled, obviously convinced that the mere mention of the ‘zine was enough to make all who heard him quiver with fear. Mike D had just been DQed from CMWC 2000 and was most upset, poor lamb. Needless to say, UDM 8 held no terrors for me.

Anyway, imagine my amusement to see him presenting this short following Shino, the Tokyo rider who was top-placed fixie at CMWC 2006, as he arrived in a cold, icy New York City for 2007 Monster Track. The New York messengers bill this as the biggest track alleycat in the world. But if you listen to New Yorkers, you will end up believing that they invented the track bike, the messenger bag (ok, that is actually true), messenger culture, bicycle culture and the pneumatic tyre (that was a Scotsman, I think you’ll find). Or you might just go deaf because New Yorkers don’t seem to do normal conversational tones, only shouting and SCREAMING. I guess you could say that they are enthusiastic and affirmational. Often it comes over as boastful and rude.

Am I coming across as anti-NYC here? Sorry, I don’t mean to. I just wish that some of the New Yorkers would stop gobbing off. Don’t they know that hot air is a major cause of global climate change?

Sniping aside, this film was one of the best of all of the many shorts that I have seen about messenger events. I liked it because it showed what is cool about messenger events. People getting excited about riding bicycles, foreigners coming in to a city and being treated as honoured guests and messengers having fun with each other. Big messenger events are normally chaotic, but at their best, it’s friendly creative chaos.

The film didn’t show a lot of the racing, but there was so much in the rest of the progamme that it wasn’t missed. The winners’ victory speeches were unintentionally hilarious, too.

Also in the programme was Lucas Brunelle‘s London’s Calling and Worldwide Broadcast. If you want to know what it is like to ride an Alleycat really fast, look no further than these films. This guy has it nailed. He is really quick on the bike, and can follow the fastest guys. The footage he gets is as close as you are going to get without actually doing one. This was gritty, and doesn’t spare the blushes of the riders. Boy, Alleycats are stupid, aren’t they?

By contrast, Steady Scraping was not gritty at all. In the world of Colin Arlen and Colby Elrick, it never rains, tyres never blow because they have been skidded too far and no-one ends up lying in the road with an acre of road rash where their arse used to be after doing something stupid. Anna said that she kept expecting whatever product this film was promoting to appear. All the guys in the film were obviously skilled track bike riders, and could do nice wheelies, and skids and all the rest of those tricks, but I kept thinking didn’t we see all this in Mash, last year? This was bike riding without pain, without effort, without discomfort, without humour.

At least Lucas Brunelle’s films show the reality of riding bikes on the street.

I enjoyed the most of the rest of the films on the programme, but I want to mention Hunger in the City by Paola Gomez, about a grass-roots group that uses bicycles to deliver burritos to homeless people in Los Angeles. Last year Midnight Ridazz and now this. Both these films show a side of the US that is rarely seen in Europe. In Hunger in the City we saw thoughtful, quiet, gentle Americans trying to look out for people less well off than themselves. I found it a very cool film.

Well, the festival is practically over, and I missed most of it. What a drag. Thanks to Brendt Barbur for bringing it to us, but as he himself said last night, really very special thanks to the two people without whom he would not have been able to put it on:

Roxy Erickson and Laura Fletcher.

Thank you very much, ladies!

  1. cheers for the cobbled together comment bill…..“strange, weird and cobbled together”…i love the positive critique of your own project.

    — jono    21 October 2007, 15:56    #
  2. Sorry Jono, just meant it was wierd to see on the big screen!

    — Bill    21 October 2007, 16:01    #
  3. I’m sure Fast Friday was some sordid meeting ground for Homosexual (not that there is anything wrong with being gay) Fakengers who like to call themselves ‘kid’ and ride their fixed wheels without saddles.

    Zack Speedfast    21 October 2007, 18:57    #
  4. Yeah…I have a thing or two to say about new yorkers myself….

    But full dissertation to come after my first day of work tomorrow.

    I’m so sorry I missed all the fun in London! I think I would give a major appendage to get back the time I just spent in NYC and spend it in London instead.


    — NhattattacK    22 October 2007, 00:10    #
  5. The whole thing was fuckin’ great and I’d happily marry one of the ski boys ‘never a dull moment’ god bless Canada.

    — ifbm    22 October 2007, 12:26    #
  6. I really enjoyed most of the shorts, pretty cool to see people I know on the big screen, both in Roller Race and London’s Calling. Represent! The Monster Track film was ace, so was Ski Boys, very pretty. Fast Friday made me want to become a cab driver though, God help us.

    I found this funny comment on youtube about London’s Calling..

    “this vid is speeded up by 40 or 50%. Check all (tourist WestEnd) pedestrians walking so briskly, moreso than their usual sluggish pace. The traffic is a little too swift, and fast reacting on the brakes etc. The reason some at junctions are slow is because they’re crawling to avoid hitting the couriers.
    More giveaways – 4.22 the cyclists in opposite direction are also going at warp speed, over and above differences in closing speed – 4.32 the work vehicle siren is much faster than standard”

    Yeah, that’s it mate. Supersonic!

    P.S. Anyone built up a scraper bike yet? I want one.

    — Dazzling    22 October 2007, 14:57    #
  7. “Fast Friday made me want to become a cab driver”…


    — Bill    22 October 2007, 16:54    #
  8. “Ski Boys” made me want to become a Canadian..

    stupidP    23 October 2007, 21:37    #
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