Bicycle Film Festival is back for its 16th year at the Anthology Film Archives.In this town, cycling isn’t just a convenient method of getting from A to B: it’s a lifestyle. And with biking season and film festival season in full swing, the
This year, female-directed films will open and close the fest. Brendt Barbur, its founder, explained that unfortunately, both the worlds of film and cycling are still suffering from a lack of women participants and leaders. As such, he’s pleased to show two headliners that are both feature-length documentaries about women and their own personal cycling cultures.
The first film of this year’s entries, which will be shown on Friday, June 24, will be Sky Christopherson’s and Tamara Jenkins’ Personal Gold, a documentary about the 2012 American female Olympic cycling team and their attempts to win the gold medal for the first time in over 20 years. “The female team didn’t have any money,” Barbur explained. “Lance and the boys took all the money. And then they got banned!”
The film describes how, against all odds, the women’s team decided to take an unconventional approach to the competition. “It’s an amazing story,” Barbur said. “Folks from the tech world, they’d call it ‘data not doping.’ [The women’s team] used analytics to find a way to get an edge over the competition.”
After the Friday screening, the East Village late-night favorite Veselka will be offering a reception for all ticket holders that will include complimentary pierogis, as well as some cold brews courtesy of Sierra Nevada.
Ovarian Psycos, directed by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, will close out the festival on Sunday, June 26. The documentary is about a group of women from East L.A. who form a cycling gang as a way to reclaim the hostile streets of their neighborhood. “It’s not the safest and most hospitable place to live for women,” Barbur said, “but they have found empowerment through this kind of cycling gang.”
There will also be a special kick-off event on Wednesday, June 22, which will include a screening of the 1975 film The Impossible Hour by Jørgen Leth. The film will be accompanied by a live score from North Brooklyn fixtures Blonde Redhead along with a chamber ensemble. The screening will be held at the San Diamano mission in Greenpoint, which should make for a very striking backdrop.
But that’s not all! There won’t just be films, there’s art as well! Accompanying the film festival each year is a cycling-themed art show, and this year’s installment of the Joyride Art Exhibition will be debuting in Bushwick. It will be open to the public for one day only, Thursday, June 23, and will feature artworks by artists such as Tom Sachs, Cheryl Dunn, Kenzo Minami, and Jules de Balincourt. The highlight of the show might very well be Erykah Badu’s video installation.
The inspiration for the festival has quite harrowingly personal roots. While riding his bicycle on Third Avenue in 1999, Barbur was hit by a bus. After six months of physical therapy, the passionate cyclist decided he needed to do something “really fun and positive” with what happened to him. “I’m all for activism and advocacy, but I believe we’re being an activist in a different way with this festival,” he said.
Barbur’s aim was to share his love for cycling and the culture around it, and in particular its relationship with urban spaces. “I want to shine a light on how beautiful bicycles are and the lifestyle around it.” Since debuting at Anthology, the festival has spread to 75 cities around the world.
All film screenings at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave. at 2nd Street. $12 for individual films, $22 for day passes. Joyride Art Exhibition on June 23rd at 395 Johnson Ave at Morgan Avenue, 6pm-9pm.
Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct an editing error that caused the name of the Ovarian Psycos to be misspelled in the headline.