18 July 2009
tonight i volunteered again as a bike valet in order to see some bike film shorts at the bicycle film festival.
i like seeing film shorts in festivals for various reasons, but the two most simple ones are: 1., i have a short attention span and 2., i feel like one day soon i could make something on par with what i see.
today's shorts were impressive. well, most of them anyway. the shorts surveyed the cycling world's different subcultures ranging from bike polo in paris and london to commuting to bike touring to alice in wonderland inspired friendships to trips on LSD to bikes are good for the world and yourself stuff.
the festival opened with parasol, a visual delight minimal in story and dialogue. the visuals more than made up for the lack of story. it's a stop animation/motion work that took 2 years to complete. it was gorgeous. i don't want to describe too much of it, but to say that the minimal story that did take place were drawn on white paper parasols and involved bikes and in the end crushing a car that destroyed one bike. needless to say, the crowd erupted into cheers. and i was right there with them.
the next story involved a really cute interaction between two little girls. one girl was supposed to be in japan, but i immediately recognized the scenery as being the zen garden in the brooklyn botanical gardens (my favorite place to go after 9/11 i might add...but that's another story for another time). she's walking around with her adorable red bike. she finds signs (in english) saying to "go there" and "dig here." so she does and she ends up digging a very big hole.
meanwhile, back in brooklyn, a girl is timidly riding her bike. she looks unsteady and falls. she finds a mound of dirt on the ground next to a big hole. the girls have dug their way through the earth and the japanese girl goes to brooklyn where they strike up a friendship on bikes. the brooklyn girl gives the japanese girl her bike bell and she takes it back to japan with her. it was really a very cute story with really vivid colors, and again, minimal dialogue.
there was another stop animation/motion short. this one showed an artist reciting a poem about her bike, while simultaneously drawing and painting it in watercolor. kind of like bob dylan's flashcards, this went by stanza by stanza telling us why we should all ride bikes.
there were the bike polo shorts, one in paris that was pretty and the other in london that was brash. and that's all i have to say about them.
there was another (computer?) animation one where it was realllly trippy. i don't know how else to describe it. the opening shot looked like the walls looked like they were rippling in water. turns out, it was foreshadowing. it was called, "the bicycle trip," and it was an imagined scene returning home from work after the actual accidental ingestion of LSD by a chemist that "discovered" it. basically, here he rides his bike home and tripppppy stuff happens. and then some rat blows up into a balloon and pops at the end. that made me laugh.
there was a SF-centric piece telling the story that was more documentary style in nature. it followed a few bay area people who ride bikes. one was a college instructor, one was a bike messenger, another was an art framer and the last one was a financial analyst. they all talked about how they use their bike around town. the last guy rides his bike 3 days a week from burlingame to SF. for those of you not familiar with the bay area, there is a commuter train that he could take that would be about 30 minutes. so...yeah, he rides pretty far, but he says it clears his mind. they show him going on a highway and cutting across traffic. i "think" it's technically a bike lane, but i know i wouldn't want to be merging from the right hand shoulder cutting across 3 lanes to another highway. which we saw him do in the short. yikes!
oh yeah, and there was this fun bike race in LA that had a few rules. basically start on the east side and whoever gets to the beach first wins. 5 people in one group, one bike had to be a fixed gear, and they could use any means necessary...which meant one group went on the highway. i know that stuff is highly illegal, but man, it looks so cool and makes me wish there could be highways for bikes. that would be sooooo rad.
the last short was sort of all over the place. it was a road trip with two french dudes happily leaving paris for the suburbs. they are silly and one is riding a stolen velib bike. the other on a fixie. they have very strong personalities and come across, initially, as very immature 20 somethings. the story progresses and you find out that the fixie dude is carrying around an urn with his mother inside. whoa, the story turned very serious all of a sudden. at first i thought it was a movie, but i think it was an actual film documenting the story.
his mother wanted her ashes spread where she spent some time growing up. the townspeople recalled what she was like and mainly talked about her body and how naive she was. she also was described as a free spirit, and you can tell her son gets his wild ways from her. her son did not like how the townspeople talked about his mother at all, and wondered why she would want to be buried here with these silly people. his friend was like, she was drawn to this place for some reason, not the people, try not to let them bother you. you see the son pouring his mother's ashes out onto the lake, and then the urn (upon which he drew a happy face) into the lake as well. the story ends with pictures of the woman and she does look just like the fixie guy.
so yeah, i had to write this all down in a hurry when i got home because i didn't want to forget the ones that i liked and why i liked them. i may edit this post. i may not. i have a horrible memory lately, so i am hoping this will help me commit some of the movies to my long term memory.