Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Minneapolis Bicycle Film Festival, July 8 - 12

I'm as much of a biker as I am a movie goer. I may not live to ride, but I certainly ride to live. The functionality of using a bike as my primary vehicle is something I really love. In addition, Minneapolis has one of the most amazing and diverse bike communities around: fixed gears, 29ers, high bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes, cruisers and bruisers. This is exactly what the Minneapolis Bicycle Film Festival sets out to celebrate: a community of people from all walks of life and the underlying worldwide ethos of riding a bicycle.

In its ninth year, the Bicycle Film Festival now travels to 39 cities worldwide. The BFF was founded in 2001 after Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director, was hit by a bus while riding in New York City. He admirably channelled his energy from this experience into creating a festival that celebrates the bicycle through music, art and film. The Minneapolis leg of the BFF draws some of the largest crowds and best attendance of any city on the tour. It is pretty awesome to attend one of the screenings and just what the bikes pile up around the venue! Plan ahead for parking!

The Festival kicks off Wednesday, July 8 with an opening party at the 501 Club. If you are a brainy biker, try your luck at bicycle trivia at 7pm. The trivia will just be a primer for a free show of blissful punk pop from with our local pride and joy Knife World and Gay Witch Abortion opening for No Age. The film fun starts Thursday at the Riverview opening with the unparalleled The Triplets of Belleville. This is a film that I would gladly see on the big screen again and again. After a full slate of films at the Riverview on Thursday, the Festival moves to the Cedar Cultural Center where an amazing number of titles will be shown Friday night and all day Saturday. Each night is capped off with an after party and the chance to socialize and indulge with fellow bikers and friends of bikers. If you spend too much time in a dark room on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plan on signing up for the BFF Co-ed Bike Polo Tourney on Sunday at 11:30am.

Opening up the foldout Festival program is pretty daunting. With over 40 titles, many of them shorts, its really hard to find any that don't sound interesting. Personally, I'm excited about Keirin Queen (1956), "a classic Japanese Keirin track film screened for the first time in the United States." Wow. Show me a Japanese film I have never heard of, and I'm happy. (The other thing that I want to point out is the after party on Friday at the Nomad World Pub where they will be hosting Coldsprints, indoor bike racing. For anyone who thinks this is just a beer soaked evening of people on exercise bikes, click on the link above and check out the video. Seriously.)

To help me navigate the program and offer a few highlights, Amy Kuretsky, local Producer of the Bicycle Film Festival, was kind enough to take some time out of her holiday weekend to answer a few questions:

How does the programming for the Twin Cities edition of the BFF differ from others?

One of the main differences in the Minneapolis programing (as opposed to the NYC programing) has always been our inclusion of older films that we show in their original 35mm format. We are lucky to have the opportunity to house our festival in a venue like the Riverview Theater and therefore we like to show feature length bike films in a setting they deserve. This year the 35mm print we are showing is The Triplets of Belleville (Thursday, 7pm, Riverview). Also, this year Minneapolis is really lucky to have three films from local filmmakers: Something Bright to be Seen in Our World (Dir. Mike Hazard & Emily Rumsey; Thursday, 9pm, Riverview), A Gentleman Never Sweats (Dir. Alice Shindelar; Friday, 9pm Cedar), and Down by the Weep Hole: The Story of the Stuporbowl (Dir. Nathaniel Freeman; Friday, 9pm, Cedar). The Stuporbowl movie has already gained a lot of attention in the bike community and we're thrilled to be premiering this local film at the BFF.

There is such a huge number of shorts! Can you highlight maybe two or three that should not be missed?

Wow, this year I think we have some of the best short films we've ever shown at the BFF. Here are just a few of my favorites: Train Trip (Dir. Joe Rich & Ruben Alcantara; Friday, 7pm, Cedar) is beautifully shot on Super 8 and miniDV and documents two of the best in the BMX scene travel through Europe with nothing but their bikes, a backpack, and a camera. Red Hook Criterium (Dir. Kalim Armstrong; Friday, 9pm, Cedar) is shot and edited to look like a segment from ESPN and is one of the funniest shorts we're screening. Broadway Bomber/Bridge Battle (Dir. Lucas Brunelle; Saturday, 9pm, Cedar) weaves the viewer through the crazy streets of NYC on a helmet cam worn by BFF fan favorite, Lucas Brunelle. Anima D'Acciaio (Soul of Steel) (Dir. Daniel Leeb; Sat, 9pm, Cedar) is a fantastic documentary about one of the last living master frame builders from Italy.

The Cedar is a new movie screening venue: how did you get involved with the Cedar?

I'm pretty sure that the Cedar used to be a movie theater way back in the day. When it got turned into a music venue they basically flattened out the floor, built a stage, turned everyone to face the side stage, and built a brick wall right over the old screen. Recently, they've been doing a bunch of remodeling to the Cedar and they came across the original screen behind the wall. The screen still intact! We won't be using that screen (AVS is supplying all our AV equipment) but I thought that the history behind the building was really interesting. We really loved using the Theater de la Jeune Lune last year (unfortunately for the whole city that theater is no longer open) and that opened us up to the option of using stage theaters instead of just movie theaters. I really like the idea of having a home base for the BFF for the weekend and I think that using both the Cedar and the Nomad for event locations just made sense. The West Bank has always been known for being bicycle friendly - the Hub, Freewheel, the Grease Pit are all located on the West Bank - and we thought the BFF would fit in perfectly.

Check out the full schedule of the Minneapolis Bicycle Film Festival here.
And the very cool trailer here:


Sandy Nawrot said...

If I didn't know better, I would have thought you created this festival yourself. How perfect is this, especially for you? You live in the coolest city...

Anonymous said...


The BBF hit Melbourne this week and we were luck enough to get to see Joe Rich and Ruben Alcantara in “Train Trip” as well as the FBM guys in “I Love My Bicycle”. Both movies were brilliant.

I have a question I’m hoping someone/anyone can answer. Does anyone know what the track name/artist name is of the first track played in “Train Trip”? I can’t seem to find any details anywhere.

Thanks (in advance).