Based out of NYC, the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) does not have the hodgepodge street party vibe of Portland's other annual bike film fest (locally grown Filmed by Bike). Instead, BFF curates a collection of sleeker films that (for the most part) were definitely not filmed in someone's backyard the night before the submission deadline. In its ninth year, BFF is bigger than ever, thanks to a corporate sponsor who funded the festival's spread to 39 cities worldwide.
The festival isn't appealing just because it features films about bikes. It's worth checking out because it features really good films about bikes. The most critically acclaimed work in the lineup is Daniel Leeb's abbreviated documentary Anima D'Acciaio (Soul of Steel), which tells the story of one of the world's greatest bike builders, Giovanni Pelizzoli. Old man Pelizzoli (AKA "Ciocc") once built bikes for the pope and the entire Vatican racing team—but these days he designs innovative bikes for punk bike messengers in his Italian workshop.
Leeb's loving portrait of an idolized bike hero is paired with films about the opposite end of the spectrum—the punks and street-racing kids themselves. But what's refreshing about this year's festival is that it transcends the typical macho messenger bike movie stars. While Portlanders will lap up familiar PBR-soaked situations in a film about the nation's "most badass alleycat" (Minnesota's Stupor Bowl), there are all kinds of people riding bikes in the festival. The Third Wheel compellingly chronicles a legal battle involving blue-collar pedicabbers in Manhattan, while kids from Trinidad are recognized as creative geniuses in Made in Queens when they strap speakers larger than they are to cheap BMX bikes and start their own mobile dance party gang.
And hey, there's something for the macho cyclists, too: Both screening days feature bike competitions with cash prizes.
Full schedule at bicyclefilmfestival.com.