A local man’s documentary history of the Critical Mass movement in Portland will premiere May 23 at the Clinton Street Theater, Southeast 26th and Clinton.
“It tells the story of how advocacy and activism coalesced to create Portland’s bicycle network over the last 40 years,” Aftermass filmmaker Joe Biel wrote in an email.
Biel began filming the story of the monthly urban bike ride, which mixed fun and activism, in 2009. Among other things, he scored a pre-candidacy interview with future Mayor Charlie Hales, who twice checked out Critical Mass by joining it anonymously while he served on city council 15 years ago. We’ve covered the making of this film, and parts of the story it tells, for years, so it’s exciting to see it on the big screen at last.
In 2006, the Portland Police Bureau spent $20,000 on Critical Mass-related traffic enforcement. Eight years later, there are regularly no participants in the monthly ride (though the local organization’s website was updated last November).
“Was it no longer relevant, did its activity not appeal to a cycling ‘mainstream,’ or was a police crackdown just so successful?” the movie’s press materials ask. “What are the new goals of cyclists? What is the new activism? How are objectives reached? And perhaps most importantly, how had Critical Mass compounded with other activism and advocacy to create North America’s premiere bicycling mecca?”
The film is the winner of the Board Choice Award from the Eugene International Film Festival. Distribution rights have been sold to The Bosko Group for DVD and online video on demand such as Netflix and iTunes. Tickets for the May 23 showing, at 7 p.m., will cost $7.