We ride bicycles and watch films. We figured that there are many like us. So we decided to integrate this environment. To treat the two words BIKE and CULTURE as synonyms. This is how BIKE DAYS Bicycle Film Festival started, an initiative that is unique in Poland, born out of the analysis of society’s needs, our own experience, and sheer fun. We watch films in the New Horizons Cinema, wind up miles at the Wrocław’s velodrome, and animate urban spaces. Somewhere by the way we try to prove that cities could function without cars. Also, we gladly create neat phrases about bicycles, such as “Grease is not dirt” or “Wheel zeal”.
The idea of the festival is based on organization through participation. We value collaboration with local, national and European initiatives centered on bicycle topics and bike culture, as well as engaging those cycles in the event’s program. We work together because we believe that the ride in a pack is better than breakaway. We want to promote sport and culture as a means of creative expression and a method to function within the urban organism. We try to educate the society in tolerance to the other as well as in a different perspective on the city: to see it as a place in which people and bicycles have a certain value.
HISTORY OF BIKE DAY
It all started with bikes. We just caught the bug. Browsing through internet auctions, flea markets and mail-order stores, we collected parts: frames, saddles, stems, headsets, seatposts, pedals, and cranks. Shimano, Miche, Campagnolo, BLB, 3ttt. That’s how our first handmade freewheel racing bicycles came to being. And later – fixed gears. And when we had all that beautiful equipment, we decided it was time to take it for a spin. To make some miles. Because the city wasn’t enough anymore.
We set out. Lower Silesia, the coast of the Baltic Sea, routes to Poznań and Warsaw. We told ourselves that true form can be developed only along the route, and we started looking for the real distance: 1000 km. Trieste in Italy, then across France along the Loire and the Czech hills. It was in the saddle that we had the first glimpse of the idea to combine bicycle fun with cultural activity. We had already known a number of good film productions dedicated to fixed-gear racers, cyclists and bicycle tourists. We wanted to plant the seed towards the artistic dimension of sport activity on both Wrocław’s and Polish ground in general, where an initiative of this sort had been missing. The germinating bike culture needed a broader social and cultural context. Hence Bike Days Bicycle Film Festival. Because bike and culture are synonymous.
In 2013 we prepared the first edition of the bicycle films review BIKE DAY RIDE AND WATCH (11 May 2013). We presented 3 films that are considered classics of the bicycle cinema: LINE OF SIGHT by Benny Zenga, featuring documentary bike escapades of the legendary Lucas Brunell; MURDER OF COURIERS directed by Neil Brill and Tom MacLeod – feature film about Vancouver dispatch riders (first screening in Poland); and HIT THEM IN THE MOUTH (dir. Matthew Sipple), a documentary about the history of Bike Polo, a popular team sport among cyclists. BIKE DAY RIDE AND WATCH comprised also a ride through the city, bike races, BIKE SWAP – a free exchange of spare parts – and meetings in the culture café Druga Fala.
On the 6-8 June 2014 during the first edition of Bike Days Bicycle Film Festival we showed 12 movies. In four film cycles and two special events we grouped together short and feature films, fiction and documentary productions. We organized the Polish premiere of the movie UNSTOPPABLES (dir Daniel Jariod), a story of preparations of disabled cyclists to the London Paralympics Games. The screening was preceded by a meeting with the film’s producer and a video conference with the director. The festival closed with the screening of a classic example of the Italian neo-realism, BICYCLE THIEVES by Vittorio De Sica, which was presented to a full audience, just like the little known Ridley Scott miniature entitled BOY AND BICYCLE.
The program featured also a selection of the latest productions from the USA, Ireland, Italy, France, Canada, Belgium, and Great Britain, such as BRUSSELS EXPRESS about the work of dispatch riders in Brussels or B.I.K.E., portraying the subculture of anarchistic group of cyclists from New York City. Mornings with Bike Days in the New Horizons Cinema presented animated films for children, with characters from vintage Polish cartoons riding bicycles. Apart from the movies we also organized an exhibition showing the history of bicycle culture and the discipline of cycling (“Peace Race” in Galeria U in Wrocław), a social debate on the situation of the Polish bicycle transport and road manners, open workshops in bicycle mechanics, and a Picnic combined with a race at the Wrocław’s velodrome. All events enjoyed enormous popularity, which reinforced our conviction that the city needs not only bike lanes, but also an artistic backstage for the sprouting bike culture.