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Nicole Mackinlay HahnNicole Mackinlay Hahn (left), whose film Hardihood was shown at the 2002 Bicycle Film Festival, visited with BFF founding director Brendt Barbur at the festival's headquarters in New York City.
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Irene StickneyIrene Stickney, Kirsten White, Laura Mensinga and Cat Essiambre wear coordinated cycling apparel of their own design at the 2011 Bicycle Film Festival. Their Fabric Bike sculpture hangs in the background.
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Frank WarrenIn their 2011 film, Jessica Scott and Hyde Harper captured amateur racer Frank Warren's first run at the Red Hook Criterium.
Attention female artists and filmmakers with a passion for cycling: the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) wants you. Although the 2011 edition, which traveled to 27 cities in the US and abroad, screened a record number of films directed by women, there’s plenty of room for more, says BFF founding director Brendt Barbur.
Barbur – who launched the festival in 2000 as a celebration of bicycling through film, art and music after a cycling accident – views women’s engagement in bicycle filmmaking within the context of the growth in cycling’s popularity in general.
“Women are the future,” he said. “If cycling is going to grow, then women are an important part of that.”
Eleven women were listed as directors in last year’s festival program of 70 films. Their contributions included the short film, Fabric Bike, by Laura Mensinga and Kirsten White of the all-girl bike gang and design cooperative Deadly Nightshades. One of the festival’s spotlight features, Racing Towards Red Hook, directed by Jessica Scott, Hyde Harper and Thomas LaGrega, recounted the 2011 Red Hook Criterium underground cycling race.
“The participation of women filmmakers lends a fresh perspective,” Barbur continued. “It all comes back around to the joy of cycling.”
Among the earliest female contributors of a major film was Nicole Mackinlay Hahn, whose Hardihood was screened at BFF 2002. Her work, about women’s professional downhill mountain bike racing, was groundbreaking not only in its focus on top female competitors in an overwhelmingly male sport, but also in its intimate portrait of the racers’ psychology and lifestyle – from balancing motherhood with sport, to training and world travel.
Mackinlay Hahn, who is currently working on a documentary film about a bamboo bicycle factory in Ghana, Africa, advises aspiring bicycle filmmakers to follow their interests and embrace spontaneity. “Make sure you’ve always got your camera in your backpack, because there’s a story in every ride.”
The 2012 BFF kicks off at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. View the complete schedule at bicyclefilmfestival.com.