Bicycle Film Festival
Thursday was the premiere of the 5th annual bicycle film festival at the East Village Anthology Film Archives. This eclectic collection of movies based on everything bicycle opened to its usual crowd of bike enthusiasts who formed a line around the movie house. A jazzy band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra warmed up the crowd with a raucous marching band number. Meanwhile visitors got their bikes free valet parked and were able to get bike month calendars from one of the film festival's main sponsors: Transportation Alternatives. Although for some reason, time's up was not allowed to table. Most of the crowd was on hand to witness the NYC premiere of Still we Ride, a documentary about the recent crack down of the critical mass bike ride. Independent journalists and filmmakers, Andrew Lynn, Elizabeth Press and Christopher Ryan pieced together a very accurate account, using their own experiences and found video footage to tell a intricate story of police misconduct and the struggle of the right to ride.
In the vein of timely protest follow up videos, Still we ride was able to summarize the recent attack on the mass and investigate a very current situation, since this has only been going on since August 04. As an experienced documentary person myself, that is an impressive turnaround to have a completed project in10 months.
The video uses the filmmaker's experiences and found video footage from I-witness video, a group of volunteers who act as video monitors in protest situations.
What's really great about this 40minute project is its ability to connect to dots of the recent police misconduct that has been ongoing, especially since the Republican National Convention protests in August 04. It highlights what were just brief news blurbs into a clear account of how the NYPD has had a systematic approach to treating the critical mass just like any other protest, blatantly disregarding years of friendly, safe and uneventful bike rides. In one brief segment, one of the filmmakers is able to record a conversation with police officers that not only illustrates their cluelessness of the rank-and-file police force but also gives rare insight into their mentality about the critical mass.
I highly recommend everyone see this video. It is definitely a one sided account, but an important record, not just about an attack on a bike ride, but about a city, who has taken a stance against dissent. A stance that appears to claim that it is perfectly acceptable to use the 6th largest standing army in the world, the NYPD, to preemptively arrest, physically assault and lie to the public about people's constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly. This is an important video for all New York City residents to see.
Later that night we all got down to a festive after party on Rivington Street. Here we were tantalized to the sounds of San Francisco bike and skate icon, Ted Shred. A man who not only can bomb hills on a brakeless fix gear but can mash up Don Henley with the Notorious B,I,G, in a Fresh DJ set. After the free dos equis beer ran out and Ted finished his set the rising star Brooklyn based band, "Blonde Red-head" took the stage.
Special thanks to Bicycle Film Festival director: Brendt Barbur for his tireless work in bringing us 5 years of a great visual tribute to the bicycle.