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The Bike Stuff

The traveling 2008 Bicycle Film Festival rolls into Austin

By Rob D'Amico, Fri., Sept. 19, 2008

<b><i>Road to Roubaix</i></b>
Road to Roubaix

With bicycling becoming more of a lifestyle than just a mode of transportation for many, Austin has seen an explosion of film events celebrating all things bicycle. Bike-in movie nights sponsored by Yellow Bike Project, Waterloo Cycles, and the Texas Bicycle Coalition have offered periodic peeks at the cultural side of bicycling and often provide a rallying point for networking and political advocacy on bike issues. Now bike enthusiasts will get a taste of the world's largest venue, the Bicycle Film Festival, set for Friday and Saturday nights at the 501 Studio in East Austin. The touring festival, now in its eighth year, has been a hit in big cities with established urban bike cultures like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. The first ever showing in Austin is sandwiched between stops in Tokyo and London on the 17-city tour.

Anchoring the fest on Friday evening is the feature-length Road to Roubaix, a look at the centurylong history of a grueling, one-day, 160-mile race through the dirt and cobblestone roads of Northern France. A following program includes 11 shorts, including "Tandemonium," a musical salute to riding tandems, by Austin's Nathan Wilkes. Saturday evening features 30 more shorts documenting everything from bicycle theft in New York City to a bike tricked out with an elaborate waffle maker. An afterparty follows at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop Downtown.

Festival director Brendt Barbur notes that the event is tailored to fit each city by showing works from local artists and by mixing up other entries so that each city has a distinct program. Barbur says that while the festival aims to showcase fun and creative work, it also means to have a lasting effect of promoting bicycling in the communities on the tour. "We want the experience of the festival to last throughout the year and make a difference," he says. Barbur adds that the crowds are always unique, since you tend to be an "adventurous and creative person" if you ride a bike in an urban setting. Also look for the "bike-heads," who follow the tour to from city to city.

The 2008 Bicycle Film Festival screens in Austin Sept. 19-20, 7 and 9pm each night, at 501 Studios (501 N. I-35). Tickets are $10 for each program or $25 for a festival pass. For more info, see www.bicyclefilmfestival.com.

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