The fourth annual Bikesploitation film festival is about more than just film. "I think a lot of communities that are embracing the bicycle are having film festivals. We're seeing them pop up all over the place," Christopher Reyes says. Reyes and his partner Sarah Fleming have been putting on the festival since their days as co-creators of the music, art, film, and culture website Live From Memphis.
The goal of the event is to both entertain and educate the public about the world's most efficient mode of transportation. "It's really popular, the bicycle genre, among filmmakers," says Fleming, whose bicycle-themed short documentary Training Wheels was a hit on the indie festival circuit in 2011. "If you're looking for feature films, it's kind of hard, but if you're looking for good, short bicycle films, there are lots to choose from."
Curated by Memphis filmmaker Edward Valibus, the film competition includes selections from all over the world. "We try to have a really good collection, so there's BMX stuff, and there's mountain bike stuff, road bike stuff, fixes, you name it," Fleming says. "And there are all different genres, like narrative films and documentaries, so you can get a great overview of films from around the world and locally."
Films from as far away as Australia and Israel will screen at the festival. Walnut documents craftsman Geoffrey Franklin's process of making bike accessories from wood by hand. The spectacular Dust in the Chain from Germany follows a daring stunt rider's trick-filled trip through an abandoned industrial building. Canadian director David Phu's six-part film on Vancouver's bike culture is an inspiration to those trying to make Memphis more bike-friendly.
"Most of the films are geared to inspire," Reyes says. "That's what we want the whole festival to be. We want people to approach biking with creativity, with film, music, and art, so it's easy for people to tap into the scene and find something that interests them."
Live From Memphis' multimedia approach will be alive and well at the Metal Museum during the all-day festival. Events include a massive bike-related art show, a number of races and time trials, and interactive sculptures. "If you're an artist and you have something that is somehow bicycle-related that you want to be in the show, we wanted to include it in the show," Fleming says.
The location is new this year. "We've been wanting to do it at the Metal Museum for a long time, but part of the issue was getting there safely on bikes," Fleming says. A series of group rides ("slow jams," as Reyes calls them) has been organized from all over the city to help riders find the best route to the bluff-side festival.
"The ride leaders are stoked," Fleming says. "There's one is South Memphis, one in East Memphis, one in the University of Memphis area, one in Midtown, and one in downtown. It's not about, 'Oh, I ride a fixie' or 'I like to race.' It's about the bicycle in general. We want all kinds of people who ride bicycles to get together."
Saturday, May 17th
National Ornamental Metal Museum