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Bicycle Film Festival announces Portland stop

Posted by on April 2nd, 2007 at 5:02 pm

The Bicycle Film Festival (not to be confused with Portland’s own Filmed by Bike) has chosen Portland as one of the cities it will visit in 2007. The event is scheduled for September 5-8th.

Festival Director
Brendt Barbur
Photo: CICLE

The festival starts in New York City in May and then moves onto 15 other cities including stops in Rome, Vienna, Sydney, Los Angeles and London.

The festival is in its seventh year and according to festival director Brendt Barbur, this year’s event will be seen by over 100,000 people. Barbur, who started the event after he got hit by a bus on his bicycle and wanted to, “do something positive for bike culture”, says the event has grown a lot, but remains a grassroots effort.

Last year the event received attention in over 150 media outlets including MTV and The New York Times.

Barbur says he added Portland to the schedule this year based on many emails and phone calls urging him to bring the event here. As of today, he is still looking for a suitable venue to hold the festival.

If you love bike films, don’t miss Portland’s homegrown bike film festival, Filmed By Bike, coming to the Clinton Street Theater April 13-15.

For more on Brendt Barbur and the Bicycle Film Festival, read this great interview by Ashira Siegel on

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#1 Badass
#1 Badass

Here’s a little something I wrote after attending the Film Festival in Hollywood last year. I was so surprised how this guy seemed to actually try to cultivate contention at the event.

Bike culture, Hollywood-style

Driving from Phoenix to LA to go see the Bicycle Film Festival was a bit of a moral dilemma. But driving for bikes is just one of those things you have to do sometimes. So John Romero, another dedicated bike nut, and I did the drive to Hollywood in order to see the film festival that is usually screened in New York City. Fourteen hours of bike films might be a bit much for most people to handle, but we were driving twelve hours in order to do it, so we watched the whole thing.
Brendt Barbur started the festival five years ago in New York. He had just moved there from San Francisco when he got hit by a bus. By his own words, he’s not the kind of guy to “put on a suit and go talk with the city planners”, but he still wanted to use his energy in a positive bike-friendly way. So he decided to try and galvanize the growing bike culture in New York by organizing a film festival about bikes. He worked hard to gather a lineup of films that show the diversity of the bicycle, from BMX and urban riding, to professional road racing. Barbur brought the festival to LA in June to coincide with BikeSummer, the month-long parade of events organized to promote bicycling.
In NYC, the festival lasted for four days, and drew a record seven thousand attendees in 2005. For the traveling festival, which stops in London, Tokyo, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the line-up is cut down to a day and a half of films that samples the variety seen at the New York show. While the LA event didn’t have the numbers seen in New York or San Francisco, it was welcomed by the local inhabitants and the bike freaks came out to play.
I could describe the films and videos, or explain how cool it is to sit through a day and a half of movies about bikes, but what we saw between the films was a bit more interesting.
Despite the attempts to embrace all the different aspects of bicycles and the various people that ride them, there was something of a clash of bike cultures occurring. It wasn’t visible in the movies, but it could certainly be heard in the discussions and jeers between the films. One such clash occurred between Critical Mass and an event called “Midnight Ridazz”, both semi-illegal monthly rides occurring in the LA area. At that night’s CM ride, there were 150 people in attendance. But at the Midnight Ride two weeks previous, there were over 650 participants, and the event is growing. The Midnight ride is attractive because it focuses more on avoiding the police, rather than confronting them. That, and it is an alcohol-fueled freak-show. Brent Barbur and members of the NYC group Times Up were enthusiastically encouraging Critical Mass, yet reluctant to give kudos to Midnight Ridazz. There seemed to be some amount of tension between the groups, considering that both are non-competitive rides organized to encourage bicycle use.
The last showing was the most telling part of the festival. Up until that point, we had seen almost every kind of bike riding imaginable: BMX, mountain, fixed-gear, jousting, polo, cyclocross. The only obvious thing left was road racing. The second to last block had been the big-hitter. It was full of bike messenger films which typically have more visual stimulation and close calls than most hucking videos. The theater was at its peak occupancy during this showing, with maybe 200 people in attendance. At 9 pm, John and I went outside to see what was going on in the streets and were greeted with throngs of bikers/artists/moviegoers all milling about on the sidewalk. Well over 100 bikes were locked to anything and everything: signposts, parking meters, benches, whatever people could find with the absence of actual bike racks. When we followed the 150 people into the theater, there were still tons of people just hanging out on the sidewalk.
The last showing of the festival was a full-length film called “Pro”. A documentary that follows a handful of pro teams during the National Road Championship race in Philadelphia, it was different from all the other films shown at the festival. Produced by practiced filmmakers who debuted last year with another full-length feature about pro racers, it delved into the lifestyle of roadies with shaved legs, team kits, and all the rest. This was about dedicated athletes doing what they do best for honor, glory, and corporate sponsorship. To be honest, John and I caught each other dozing during the flick, more because it was the end of a long day rather than the movie itself, but the film was well-received.
Upon departing the theater, we followed the mob of people through the doors, and out onto the street. What we found was amazing. All the bikes were gone. And I don’t mean most, I mean ALL the bikes were gone. There were only two locked up on the block, John’s and mine. The implications of this phenomenon hit me quickly enough to get a good look at the people we had just spent the past two hours with. Gone were the chains and cutoff pants, gone the piercings and tattoos, and gone were the bikes. These things had been replaced by normal looking guys and girls dressed casually, with little to set them apart from the crowds all along Hollywood and Vine. I had guessed that this would be the case, but I had no idea how absolute the split would be. Not only didn’t a single fixie-style stay to watch the roadie flick, but not a single member of the audience road their bike to the theater.
We had to unlock our bikes that were dangling four feet up the lightpole, since when we had locked them up hours earlier, there had been a mighty bike pile surrounding the base. They looked like debris from a catastrophic flood that had washed down the street, sweeping everything away and depositing our bikes at the high-water mark on the pole. We rolled over to the designated bar for the post-festival party and found no one in attendance. I can’t say I was surprised, considering the schism that had occurred in the theater. But we still felt like the outsiders that didn’t get invited to the high-school parties on Saturday night. The jocks didn’t want us, and we couldn’t find the burn-outs. So we went home.


Great article, Badass.

I hope Portland’s bike culture isn’t that divided. The freaks and the lycras get along better here – not that they’re BFF’s or anything, but it’s a small city, and we need each other.


The dude answers his own question about why there is a division between “bike culture” and “mainstream cyclists”. “Bike Culture” arrives by bike, and “mainstream cyclists” arrive by car.


The Bicycle Film Festival to Stop in Portland…

“Barbur says he added Portland to the schedule this year based on many emails and phone calls urging him to bring the event here”…


I see this morning that gave you your props for breaking this story, Jonathan. Nice.


anna Marie Brown
anna Marie Brown

Try Cinema 21!!! They rock for such festivals!