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Sea Otter 2008
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Cross Nationals
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Got Pink?
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Which Holiday Treat
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2006 CX Nationals Sidelines
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Pedros Fest '05
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Pedros: Day One
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Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

Excerpts from a conversation with Brendt Barbur, the Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival which is being held May 10th through the 14th at the East Village’s Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue (at Second Street) and then traveling to nine cities in five countries.

Gary: How did the film festival come about?
Brendt: I grew up in California doing the thing I do, riding my bike. I moved here and I got hit by a bus riding my bike and I felt like I wanted to do something for the bicycle culture in general, maybe I could get political, have a demonstration, work for some advocacy groups or what have you. But none of these were my speed. I was an actor and I was involved with film and art and I decided that I could achieve my ends through a celebration of bikes through music film and art, plus it would be fun.

Gary: You spoke of the "Bike Culture", how would you define that?
Brendt: It's a broad world. Growing up in California, I felt like I was around those cultures. It was about outdoor life, I just loved being outdoors. Surfing was part of that, skating was part of that, biking and whatever mediums that was, BMX, Road Biking, and in San Francisco just plain urban riding. They all merged for me.
So when I was hit, first came the anger, especially when you get hit by a bus... I discovered that it was about the fight for, and defense of, your personal biking space. Anyone who rides knows how challenging it can be to compete for space and respect for that space. So I felt that the best way to uplift the status of biking, was to do what the bike companies should be doing, celebrating this bike culture through art and film, like surfing. When I did a surfing event, we called the surf companies and they were like, 'Oh Yeah, cool!' They don't know who I am but they were just so there, they were happy to participate and the event went forward. The participation of the Bike companies just isn't.

Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

On the art side, the enthusiasm is fabulous. The artists and film makers have been really supportive. Like where we started the Anthology Film Archives is a legendary place for films. The names behind that place are Martin Scorsese, Jonas Makus, Anyd Warhol and Yoko Ono, we had the support from that place which kind of opened up the doors for us. Since then we have been lucky enough to sell out most shows in five cities world wide last year.

The thing that the Festival is most impacting is Urban Bike Culture. Those are the people who really get it and are embracing it. In fact, this has also had an impact on it. Now I don't claim to know a great deal about the bicycle industry but, I really think that what's happening right now, is a huge movement. It's bigger than the mountain bike scene that happened like ten years ago that saved the bike industry.



Gary: When you say urban bike culture, are you talking professional bike riders? Are you talking bike messengers? Or are you talking about Carol who we were talking with before who just went down to the fish market on her bike? What is it that your focus is in terms of what you define as bike culture?
Brendt: I think it is people who ride daily in there life, let's keep it at that. We're including people who commute, people who just stay in their neighborhoods and run errands. Maybe they work too far, or think they work too far to be able to ride. And then professional riders, I consider bike messengers professional riders. In fact, they are elite professional riders, I would like to see competitive teams attempt to ride here on the streets with them and try to keep up with them.

We embrace all the styles at the festival. We have BMX Shows, we have recumbents, all styles, we have movies. On our web site we state that, 'name the style or the movie, we've either ridden it or screened it.' It's a lot of fun.

Gary: There is a certain "edge" to that urban bike culture. Some might look at it and call it "goth, some might call it "counter-culture," do you play to that in the festival? Let's say some elementary school mom hears about the bike festival, is she going to bring her kids to the festival?
Brendt: The whole family comes, in fact we started this as a family event, there's no alcohol. We had free screenings of Pee Wee Hermen's "Big Adventure" which is a perfect movie, because the kids come and the hipsters come. But this is the direction it has gone. We still have all the programming, We will have a BMX screening on Saturday, we have a street fair, we close the streets down. We have art shows and you will see, different types of people, you'll see different demographics. You'll see kids, but our general demographic is the youth, 18 ~ 35. But for different screenings you'll see different groups.

You talk about the edge, typically for the urban rider there is advocacy involved, someone who rides in the street, that to a lot of people is a foreign idea, so that's an edgy thing. You have to be a creative person, when no one else is doing it to think that you can do it.

But I try to keep the festival broad enough to appeal to everyone. I mean it's a bicycle. It means something to everybody. You learned how to do it when you were a kid, and every time you get on it you can experience that feeling you had when you first started riding, which is bliss. It's flying. It's the imagination, your imagination opens. You're flying. You're on a motorcycle. You're are what are you, you name it, you tell me. Some of these things that happened to you when you were a kid, and that's what still happens to me when I'm riding in the streets. On the way here, it's raining outside and I had my hood on and I could hear myself breathing. It was like music.

Gary: Talk to me about the movies you are featuring this year.
Brendt: We have a movie called "Bike" which is really exciting to me because this is about a sub culture within the urban environment here in New York City and it has a budget from a professional film production company. It's a feature that premiered at Slamdance and the company has sold other films to Lions Gate and I believe that MTV was interested in it. It's about a guy trying to get into Black Label Bicycle Club. Talk about "edgy" that film is really edgy.

Another film going back to the skateboard thing. Is a movie called MASH it's about San Francisco Fixed Gear Riders and they have a certain style there. Here in New York, fixed gear riders are about an aggressive style, they have to take - own their space. San Francisco is more laid back there's places where they can just hang out with their friends. What starts to happen is that a lot of these people are skateboarders and a lot of pro skaters are riding fixies as well and that kind of merges with the idea of doing tricks on the bikes and so on. Almost like... it's style oriented, like artistic cycling. So we showed the 20 minute unfinished version in San Francisco last October and 850 people showed up for that people were just crazy. And that's gonna be a land mark film like "Bones Brigade" which was a skate video that changed the skateboard world. I really think MASH will be a landmark and do that for the bike world. It's funny if it goes that way, I don't even think the bike industry knows, they're not even ready probably. If it goes that way I'm really excited about it.

Some other films we are screening, A film that we played in 2001, "Pedal" by Peter Sutherlad, who is a rising art star in the United States and over seas. I've mentioned Peter Sutherland in Japan for instance, and people go, Oooh Peter Sutherland... So we are really fortunate that he is participating by screening the film again at the festival and releasing a book that he did of photographs of the messengers at the world championships last year, which is messengers from all over the world and characters from all over the world in the bike scene so to speak.

Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

What's really special about the festival is all the shorts that we have. Like the Neistat Brothers they make a film for the festival every year and they are well known artists. This year the movie they made is "Yogurt vs. Gasoline" and I am telling you that if people embrace it that way there can be political movies at the festival. But in these guys, I know them and they are not the most political but, I think the timing's right and its funny. Two brothers, Van and Casey, get up and one is eating yogurt, he goes outside where his brother is waiting for him on a Ducati. They're on the upper west side, and a Van is on his old Schwinn Suburban, and you know who wins...

Gary: Is there one parting comment, one thing that sums it up?
Brendt: I would call the Festival successful. This year we expect 40,000 people to come, in New York last year we had 7,000 alone in the city. Number one I am so greatful to be a part of this whole bicycling world whatever that may be. There are areas that I personally don't know as much but, I'm enthusiastic about people riding their bikes, and all the people from all around the world who are involved with this, I just think it's amazing.

It's what makes the Festival and the whole bike scene as I call it, everyone in the bike scene it's not just the urban bike scene.


Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

Excerpts from a conversation with Brendt Barbur, the Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival which is being held May 10th through the 14th at the East Village’s Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue (at Second Street) and then traveling to nine cities in five countries.

Gary: How did the film festival come about?
Brendt: I grew up in California doing the thing I do, riding my bike. I moved here and I got hit by a bus riding my bike and I felt like I wanted to do something for the bicycle culture in general, maybe I could get political, have a demonstration, work for some advocacy groups or what have you. But none of these were my speed. I was an actor and I was involved with film and art and I decided that I could achieve my ends through a celebration of bikes through music film and art, plus it would be fun.

Gary: You spoke of the "Bike Culture", how would you define that?
Brendt: It's a broad world. Growing up in California, I felt like I was around those cultures. It was about outdoor life, I just loved being outdoors. Surfing was part of that, skating was part of that, biking and whatever mediums that was, BMX, Road Biking, and in San Francisco just plain urban riding. They all merged for me.
So when I was hit, first came the anger, especially when you get hit by a bus... I discovered that it was about the fight for, and defense of, your personal biking space. Anyone who rides knows how challenging it can be to compete for space and respect for that space. So I felt that the best way to uplift the status of biking, was to do what the bike companies should be doing, celebrating this bike culture through art and film, like surfing. When I did a surfing event, we called the surf companies and they were like, 'Oh Yeah, cool!' They don't know who I am but they were just so there, they were happy to participate and the event went forward. The participation of the Bike companies just isn't.

Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

On the art side, the enthusiasm is fabulous. The artists and film makers have been really supportive. Like where we started the Anthology Film Archives is a legendary place for films. The names behind that place are Martin Scorsese, Jonas Makus, Anyd Warhol and Yoko Ono, we had the support from that place which kind of opened up the doors for us. Since then we have been lucky enough to sell out most shows in five cities world wide last year.

The thing that the Festival is most impacting is Urban Bike Culture. Those are the people who really get it and are embracing it. In fact, this has also had an impact on it. Now I don't claim to know a great deal about the bicycle industry but, I really think that what's happening right now, is a huge movement. It's bigger than the mountain bike scene that happened like ten years ago that saved the bike industry.



Gary: When you say urban bike culture, are you talking professional bike riders? Are you talking bike messengers? Or are you talking about Carol who we were talking with before who just went down to the fish market on her bike? What is it that your focus is in terms of what you define as bike culture?
Brendt: I think it is people who ride daily in there life, let's keep it at that. We're including people who commute, people who just stay in their neighborhoods and run errands. Maybe they work too far, or think they work too far to be able to ride. And then professional riders, I consider bike messengers professional riders. In fact, they are elite professional riders, I would like to see competitive teams attempt to ride here on the streets with them and try to keep up with them.

We embrace all the styles at the festival. We have BMX Shows, we have recumbents, all styles, we have movies. On our web site we state that, 'name the style or the movie, we've either ridden it or screened it.' It's a lot of fun.

Gary: There is a certain "edge" to that urban bike culture. Some might look at it and call it "goth, some might call it "counter-culture," do you play to that in the festival? Let's say some elementary school mom hears about the bike festival, is she going to bring her kids to the festival?
Brendt: The whole family comes, in fact we started this as a family event, there's no alcohol. We had free screenings of Pee Wee Hermen's "Big Adventure" which is a perfect movie, because the kids come and the hipsters come. But this is the direction it has gone. We still have all the programming, We will have a BMX screening on Saturday, we have a street fair, we close the streets down. We have art shows and you will see, different types of people, you'll see different demographics. You'll see kids, but our general demographic is the youth, 18 ~ 35. But for different screenings you'll see different groups.

You talk about the edge, typically for the urban rider there is advocacy involved, someone who rides in the street, that to a lot of people is a foreign idea, so that's an edgy thing. You have to be a creative person, when no one else is doing it to think that you can do it.

But I try to keep the festival broad enough to appeal to everyone. I mean it's a bicycle. It means something to everybody. You learned how to do it when you were a kid, and every time you get on it you can experience that feeling you had when you first started riding, which is bliss. It's flying. It's the imagination, your imagination opens. You're flying. You're on a motorcycle. You're are what are you, you name it, you tell me. Some of these things that happened to you when you were a kid, and that's what still happens to me when I'm riding in the streets. On the way here, it's raining outside and I had my hood on and I could hear myself breathing. It was like music.

Gary: Talk to me about the movies you are featuring this year.
Brendt: We have a movie called "Bike" which is really exciting to me because this is about a sub culture within the urban environment here in New York City and it has a budget from a professional film production company. It's a feature that premiered at Slamdance and the company has sold other films to Lions Gate and I believe that MTV was interested in it. It's about a guy trying to get into Black Label Bicycle Club. Talk about "edgy" that film is really edgy.

Another film going back to the skateboard thing. Is a movie called MASH it's about San Francisco Fixed Gear Riders and they have a certain style there. Here in New York, fixed gear riders are about an aggressive style, they have to take - own their space. San Francisco is more laid back there's places where they can just hang out with their friends. What starts to happen is that a lot of these people are skateboarders and a lot of pro skaters are riding fixies as well and that kind of merges with the idea of doing tricks on the bikes and so on. Almost like... it's style oriented, like artistic cycling. So we showed the 20 minute unfinished version in San Francisco last October and 850 people showed up for that people were just crazy. And that's gonna be a land mark film like "Bones Brigade" which was a skate video that changed the skateboard world. I really think MASH will be a landmark and do that for the bike world. It's funny if it goes that way, I don't even think the bike industry knows, they're not even ready probably. If it goes that way I'm really excited about it.

Some other films we are screening, A film that we played in 2001, "Pedal" by Peter Sutherlad, who is a rising art star in the United States and over seas. I've mentioned Peter Sutherland in Japan for instance, and people go, Oooh Peter Sutherland... So we are really fortunate that he is participating by screening the film again at the festival and releasing a book that he did of photographs of the messengers at the world championships last year, which is messengers from all over the world and characters from all over the world in the bike scene so to speak.

Brendt Barbur, Founder and Director of the Bicycle Film Festival

What's really special about the festival is all the shorts that we have. Like the Neistat Brothers they make a film for the festival every year and they are well known artists. This year the movie they made is "Yogurt vs. Gasoline" and I am telling you that if people embrace it that way there can be political movies at the festival. But in these guys, I know them and they are not the most political but, I think the timing's right and its funny. Two brothers, Van and Casey, get up and one is eating yogurt, he goes outside where his brother is waiting for him on a Ducati. They're on the upper west side, and a Van is on his old Schwinn Suburban, and you know who wins...

Gary: Is there one parting comment, one thing that sums it up?
Brendt: I would call the Festival successful. This year we expect 40,000 people to come, in New York last year we had 7,000 alone in the city. Number one I am so greatful to be a part of this whole bicycling world whatever that may be. There are areas that I personally don't know as much but, I'm enthusiastic about people riding their bikes, and all the people from all around the world who are involved with this, I just think it's amazing.

It's what makes the Festival and the whole bike scene as I call it, everyone in the bike scene it's not just the urban bike scene.


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