Now 11 years old, the BFF (Bicycle Film Festival) is paying London a visit for the eighth time in October. Road.cc talks to Brendt Barbur, founder, and Laura Fletcher, London producer of the globe-conquering festival.
The action happens at London’s Barbican from 5-9 October, one of 25 ports of call in 2011, the Bicycle Film Festival’s increasing breadth and internationalism is reflected in the London programme. “This is the most diverse programme to date,” says Brendt Barbur, who founded the festival after being knocked off his bike in New York City. “Eleven years ago, we started the festival with strong ties into the messenger and fixed gear community, and most of the films at that point were about urban riding. At this point, we have an amazing amount of submissions about all types of cycling, and we are lucky to have the chance to screen them!” He continues: “Each year the quality and volume of submissions get bigger and bigger. We truly have submissions from all over the world: Johannesburg to Jakarta, Mexico City to Minneapolis.”
You can see a full programme at the BFF website www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/london, but notable this year is Sunchasers, a documentary which explores the world of competitive cycling through the lives of three disabled women as they prepare for the Paralympic Games. “We have had films about Olympic athletes, including one of my all-time festival favourites, Standing Start by Finlay Pretsell, a Scottish film-maker,” says Laura Fletcher, the UK BFF producer. “It is a great opportunity though to show Sunchasers, in the lead up to the Olympics in London next year.”
Alongside that is the UK premiere of Racing Towards Red Hook, about the Brooklyn-based criterium that started as an underground event for local riders and the city’s messengers, but which now attracts national-level road-racing talent. There are also the familiar, highly popular compendium programmes of shorts of all flavours. “As always, its great to see such a diverse group of films from UK film-makers,” Laura says. “Two of the highlights this year for me are our first ever collaboration with the amazing Barbican Silent Film Club, a screening of a 1922 British film called Wheels of Chance with live piano accompaniment. There’s also our first ‘About Women, by Women’ screening, dedicated to films about women in cycling directed by women.”
Aside from the silent film screening, the festival is also packing in a large number of collaborations and off-screen events, from the kick-off party featuring The New Cassettes, a night of Northern Soul presented by the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum, and a bike polo tournament. There’s also a roller race with Rollapaluza and a fixed freestyle competition hosted by London crew Mixt Meat, plus a closing night party at bike café Look Mum No Hands (where did we all go before Look Mum No Hands?).
“We have always put a lot of value into the events that surround the film screenings,” says Laura. “The BFF is a festival that celebrates cycling through film, art and music and we have constructed the event to reach out to the communities through as many different mediums as we can get our hands on. The diversity of events and sceenings hopefully gives every cyclist, fan of cycling, film buff, artist or musician a strong reason to come out and celebrate bikes with us.”