Cycling hits the big screen at NZBFF

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Daylight saving is over, and it’s getting cooler. But don’t believe that the summer’s plethora of WCC Communities on Bikes bike events is over.  A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver for their annual bike film festival, and wondered if the same could happen in Wellington. Well, thanks to the dedicated film buffs at Nga Taonga Sound and Vision, it is. Two weeks of pedal oriented pictures, centrally located at the cosy theatre on the corner of Ghuznee and Taranaki, comprise the inaugural NZ Bicycle Film Festival.

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The Festival launch was on Tuesday 5 April, with the inaugural NZ showing of Bikes vs Cars, documenting the struggle to make cities safer and more comfortable for bike trips. Although I have reservations about the title (sometimes we ride bikes, sometimes we drive cars, we have to coexist rather than conflict) the actual movie is more nuanced. It draws on experiences of cycle advocacy around the world, which should lead to a stimulating panel discussion (including CAW’s James Burgess and NZTA’s Dougal List) at the “regular” showing 6pm Friday 8 April. Watch an interview with director Fredrik Gertten including how they filmed Sao Paulo traffic from a bike.

The festival includes some classics. I saw Breaking Away back in the 80’s when I’d just discovered biking. It explores a young American’s discovery of Italian bike racing culture. It made #8 on American Film Institute’s 100 most inspiring movies.

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The Oscar nominated animated feature The Triplets of Belleville (Saturday 9 April) incorporates the Tour de France, the Mafia and Jazz.

A lot of Kiwis incorporate biking with their OE, but few have been as committed as Hap Cameron, who biked across Namibia, and got more Namibians biking more often with a container load of Melbourne second hand bikes. This is documented in Bikes for Africa (4:30pm 9 Saturday April).

A Wellington Bike Film Festival can’t ignore off road cycling. I’m looking forward to the Big Bike Film Night (7pm Sat 9 April & 7pm Wed 13 April) – a collection of short films which has already sold out in Cambridge, Rotorua and Taupo (may still be seats at Wellington, Toronto and Cannes 🙂 ) Also celebrating mountain biking is unReal (7pm, Fri 15 April & 7pm, Sat 16 April) which includes ancient (well, 1985) helmet cam footage by the Kennett brothers, recording the dawn of mountain biking in the capital.

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Cycling in NZ goes back a long way, and so does filming. Nga Taonga has delved into the archives to see where these two activities have intersected, coming up with  A Cinematic Century of Cycling in NZ (7pm 14 April, 4:30pm 16 April) with film dating back to 1907. Features the NZ Cycle Corps of WWI, cycle races, and primate oriented road safety advice.

Non-filmic events include Goldsprints on 5-6pm Friday 8 April, racing for prizes courtesy of Bicycle Junction, and Mechanical Tempest checkups 3-7pm Saturday 9 April.

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