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Bikes on Film

By Jeff Guerrero

Bicycle Film Festival - NYC 2008

The Lower East Side might be the perfect venue for hosting an urban cycling event. Easily accessed from Brooklyn and the rest of Manhattan, the matrix of crowded streets offer a myriad of cultural activities and opportunities for fun. Not to mention plenty of chances to play in traffic. And with well over 18,000,000 people living in the metro area, there’s a good chance you have friends or family in NYC.

As in years past, Urban Velo headed to NYC for the 2008 Bicycle Film Festival. Arriving on Thursday night, we spent most of the day Friday riding around the city and meeting up with friends—old and new. After a cruise up to Harlem via Central Park, we headed downtown on the West Side Bike Path. When we arrived at the Film Anthology building a marching band was playing to a fast-growing crowd of cyclists.

Friday’s program included a special presentation of Benny Zenga and Brian Vernor’s “Goodbye Tomorrow.” The eight-minute reel was a preview of their upcoming documentary on crossing Africa by bike. Another good documentary was Kalim Armstrong’s “Orange Bikes Take Manhattan,” which explores a highly-criticized, bicycle-themed DKNY marketing campaign. On the lighter side, “The Loaded Warrior” lampooned the Mel Gibson classic “Road Warrior” with bikes and beer replacing cars and gasoline.

Saturday’s activities began with a block party at 2nd and 2nd. Highlights included trick demos, skills competitions, music and a handful of bike companies showing off their wares. Saturday’s main event was the messenger film program, and anyone who made it into the sold out theater knows why. No other screening was as much of a party, replete with lots of beer and a boisterous crowd. The audience went wild for local filmmaker Daniel Leeb’s entry “King of Skitch,” especially with the star of the film, Felipe Robayo, in the audience. Along with a contribution from perennial favorite Lucas Brunelle, the screening featured a variety of documentaries, shorts and music videos.
With a limited amount of time at our disposal, we only took in a sampling of the festival’s offerings. Rest assured, there’s much more. Check for complete program listings.

For more Bicycle Film Festival 2008 coverage, including photos and video, visit