Bicycle Film Festival 2009 reviews

So the London leg of the BFF has drawn to a close, probably a good job because we’re partied out! We squeezed in as much as we could – films, riding and parties.

Cinematic highlights were I Love My Bicycle: The Story Of FBM Bikes, a documentary about US bike company FBM (Fat Bald Men) which started out life as 17 year old BMXer Steve Crandall’s T-shirt company and grew into one of the most well respected DIY bicycle companies around, manufacturing BMX and, more recently, track frames. The film follows FBM from it’s conception in a sqaulid house inhabited by a load of tearaway BMXers with no parents to tell them not to set fire to shit / smash shit up / steal shit, through 15 years of mayhem which nearly saw FBM go under on several occasions, the closest when it’s whole set up burnt to the ground after a (most probably) stoned photographer friend covers an electric heater with a load of cardboard boxes.

Founder Steve Crandall, a large character in every sense, narrates the film. Mates with icons like Dave Mirra and Mat Hoffman, Crandall has little business acumen but an unwaving passion for BMX, which keeps the company alive. Shunning the big business template and keeping it very much ‘by the riders for the riders’, what comes across is how FBM is built on passion and hard work and actually turns over very little money, but the respect they have in the industry more than makes up for it.

A fascinating and inspiring documentary, whether you’re into BMX or not, whether you know the FBM story or have never heard of them.

A very different program, the Urban Bike Shorts, is a collection of short films ranging from 1 minute to 13 minutes which are submitted to the festival by directors and wannabe directors all over the world. Tailored to the hosting city, many were set in London by British directors. Highlights included the rather trippy The Pigeon, about a courier (dressed as a pigeon) ostracized from the mainstream society. He rides hard and drinks harder. All that changes when he meets a blue tit…sounds crazy, it makes sense if you watch it, kinda.
The shortest but the sweetest were The Messenger’s Creed, a 2 min hippocatric oath of the cycle messenger. Pixel Gear Bikes, an animation based on the Paperboy 2 videogame from the 80s is original in its concept and humourous in its delivery. One Less Horse, but Intersection magazine editor, Yorgo Tloupas pitches three horse polo players against three bike polo players. Did we ever find out who won?!

The festival moves to Copenhagen next, where the fun is just about to start rolling.

P.S. Check out the awesome BFF trailer at the bottom.


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