Party marries passions for bicycles, films

A still from the Chicago-based 'Working Bikes.'

A still from the Chicago-based 'Working Bikes.'

Bicycles appear with some regularity in Memphis police reports, usually as stolen goods.

But what happens when bicycles are not the loot but the perpetrators? What happens when bicycles turn to crime?

That's the premise of "Bad Bikes," perhaps the most entertaining film among a dozen local and international shorts scheduled to be screened during "Bikesploitation II: Some Bike It Hot!," a free public event set for 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday on the rooftop of the Sears Crosstown building at 495 N. Watkins.

Memphis filmmaker Robert Rowan is the creator and star of 'Meditation on Two Wheels.'

Memphis filmmaker Robert Rowan is the creator and star of 'Meditation on Two Wheels.'

Organized by Live From Memphis, a production company and support organization for the local arts community, "Some Bike It Hot!" is a sequel to last year's successful first "Bikesploitation" festival, which also was a celebration of the Mid-South's expanding bicycling and filmmaking communities.

It's also an excuse for a party at "one of the city's coolest spaces," the Sears rooftop, where the movie screen will be erected, said Live From Memphis co-founder Sarah Fleming. Food and drink will be available, along with interactive "Bike Art" exhibits and a bicycle- themed photo booth. (In case of rain, the party moves indoors, to a lower floor of the building.) Of course, people are encouraged to bike to the event.

Fleming said "Some Bike It Hot!" recognizes the collaborative, energetic spirit that typifies local biking and filmmaking. "There's a lot of overlap, in terms of the sense of community, between what on the surface might not be common interests."

Those interests are brought together vividly by Robert Rowan, who introduces his 9-minute "Meditation on Two Wheels" with this confession: "My passions are biking and filmmaking." Shot mostly with a wide-angle "helmet camera," Rowan's film is a visually stunning biker's-eye view of the streets of Memphis, edited from 200 miles' worth of biking footage shot in seven days in April.

This year's festival could hardly be more timely. Thanks to the city's recent re-striping of numerous streets to create officially designated bike lanes, bicycling has been much in the news lately, in part because not every Memphian believes velocipedists deserve right-of-way courtesy. This controversy helped inspire "Bad Bikes," created by the local filmmaking collective Corduroy Wednesday.

The comic film blames the emergence of the "spoked monsters" menace on the permissive values of a health-conscious society that values bicycling as a green alternative to traditional motor traffic. "This town just had bike lanes installed, and look what happened," complains a reactionary mayoral candidate about the crime wave.

Some other local films include "Bike Lee (an homage to Spike Lee)," by Ranetta "RJ" Jackson, and Sean Faust's "Victory Bicycle Studio," a mini-documentary about a Broad Avenue business that takes an artisanal and customer-specific approach to bike sales and repair. An international highlight is London director Ninian Doff's "Golden Tree," subtitled "A Professional Display of No Handed Bike Moves," in which bicyclists demonstrate such look-Ma- no-hands poses as "The Classic" and "The Archer."

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'Bikesploitation II: Some Bike It Hot!'

The free festival of local and international short films takes place from 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday on the rooftop of the Sears Crosstown building at 495 N. Watkins.

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