New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna, Milan, Melbourne — Memphis?
A new addition to the tour, the Bluff City is the first stop for this year’s 9th annual “Bicycle Film Festival,” a somewhat-misnamed celebration of velocipedal culture that will roll through 39 cities around the world before the end of the year.
The festival takes place Friday and Saturday, with films, music and a family-friendly block party in Overton Park.
The Bicycle Film Festival was founded by New York artist Brendt Barbur after he was hit and seriously injured by a bus while biking in Manhattan 10 years ago. Instead of becoming a political activist for bicycling, he decided to “celebrate the culture” with “a happening” devoted to the wonders of spokes, handlebars, chains and typically skinny tires, as well as the people who love them.
“I feel we are part of this century’s biggest movement,” said Barbur, 38, who will be in Memphis for the inaugural local fest. “I don’t ride a bike because I’m anti-car or anti-suburban; I ride it because it’s the best way to get around.”
Bike ownership or even bike love aren’t necessary to participate in the festival, however. Events include:
— 7 p.m. Friday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park: “Fun Bike Shorts,” a program of 16 inventive and frequently comic short films with bicycles, from France, Italy, Canada, Japan, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and the U.S., including one film shot by a daredevil wearing a “helmet-cam.” Admission is $7.
— 9 p.m. Friday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: “Urban Bike Shorts,” 13 more short films, from Japan, Spain, Italy, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the U.S., including “Warriors: The Bike Race,” in which 800 bicyclists form 89 “gangs” for an all-night ride from the Bronx to Coney Island, to recreate the journey of the characters in the 1979 gang warfare movie, “The Warriors.” Admission is $7.
— 9 p.m. Friday, Nocturnal, 1588 Madison: A free film-fest “after party.”
— Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Overton Park: A bicycle fest “block party,” with food, vendors, bike games and tricks, games for kids, and more.
— 3 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: A screening of “Road to Roubaix,” a 75-minute documentary about the most prestigious one-day cycling race in the world, the 113-year-old Paris-Roubaix, a grueling contest over 160 miles of narrow, cobbled farm roads in northern France. Also on the program are two shorts about professional cycling, “Standing Start” and “Millar’s Tale.” Admission is $7.
— 9 p.m. Saturday, Murphy’s, 1589 Madison: A “Bikes Rock” concert, featuring the River City Tanlines, the Magic Kids, the Warble and the Girls of the Gravitron. Admission: $5.
Barbur said the Memphis event is the festival’s first stop in the South, “unless you count Austin.” He said each city’s festival is unique; the shorts programs at the Brooks Museum, for example, represent a sort of “greatest hits” roundup of the best bike films in the festival’s history, selected to introduce Memphians to the concept.
The local producer of the festival is Alona Lerman. For more information, visit bicyclefilmfestival.com.