SHIFT INTO HIGH GEAR FOR FILMED BY BIKE
Portland is known for its bicycling culture, which is a catch-all term for so much: Everyday commuters, family-friendly neighborhood routes, bike share, mountain bike and cyclocross races, and zany fun combined with bike activism, such as the Portland Naked Bike Ride.
Each year since 2003, Portland Filmed by Bike has been celebrating that community with dozens of dazzling, eye-opening bicycle films, events and parties over one weekend.
This year the 16th annual festival is set for May 4-6 with 80 films by 74 filmmakers from all over the world, based in 14 countries including Nairobi, Brazil, Slovenia and New Zealand.
"It's a nice representation of what's happening all through the world," says Ayleen Crotty, festival director.
Something new this year will be the opening night street party, with the Hollywood Theatre marquee as a backdrop, main stage, beer garden hosted by Base Camp Brewing, raffle and other activities.
"We think it sets the tone for the whole weekend, where the whole community's welcome to come," says Crotty, who worked with neighbors and local businesses to arrange the street closure. "It's one of Portland's most inventive arts and culture events."
Crotty and her team work eight months of the year to review potential films for screening, and run them past a jury of bike film experts to select the final bunch.
This year's juror roster included Chris King, owner of Chris King Precision Components, and Barry Braverman, cinematographer with credits including Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Darjeeling Limited."
After the Portland festival, the films are packaged and sent on the road for a tour that includes 50 stops across the nation and world.
Opening night this year will include two screenings, each showcasing 10 to 15 films that feature love stories, glorious feats of adventure, animated shorts, documentaries, comedies and more.
Saturday night, local bike enthusiasts will get especially hyped for the season by the Adventure Night program — a collection of films that spotlight people who ride bikes to get places and go adventuring, "push themselves beyond the daily grind and explore on the rugged road" as they go rock climbing, skiing or camping, Crotty says.
"People who maybe don't identify as cyclists but like to do the outdoor things we do" may find inspiration, she says. "There's so much crossover, it makes it great for everyone."
Another collection of films, on Sunday night, will focus on stories with heart. Similar to last year, those stories will show how bicycles change lives, particularly in developing nations. Many of them show that anyone can ride a bike — including people who are blind, have one leg, or have other barriers to overcome. The films are humbling to witness.
"These weren't flashy movies, vibrant or upbeat, they were just well-told, with so much heart," Crotty says. "There was more feedback than ever before. I'm thankful to know that after all these years, it's those beautiful stories about people with heart that resonate with our audience."
The festival will end this year with a From the Vault collection, a throwback to the early days of bike movies, most of which festival-goers have never seen since the films can't be found elsewhere.
"They're hilarious, goofy, lighthearted and a good glimpse into the early days of Portland's bike culture," Crotty says.
The early 2000s saw the start of Portland's creative class, when young, college-educated transplants moved here and gave rise to the coffee culture, food and beer culture, artisan culture, bike culture, design culture, activist culture, art culture and more.
For instance, one of those early films profiles the Alberta Street Clown House, in which a group of cyclists rode tall bikes and wore funny costumes. Another profiles the Sprockets dance troupe, who were vigilantes that rescued a stolen bike.
Also check out the filmmaker chat, filmmaker bike ride and tour, and speed raffle with $6,000 in prizes.
When: Friday, May 4-Sunday, May 6
Where: Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
Details: The Base Camp Brewing Street Party opens the festival from 5-10 p.m. Friday with a free, all-ages event that features live entertainment, beer garden, food vendors, a photo booth, performance art, lawn games and bike parking.
Cost: Tickets are $65 for a three-day festival pass (includes all screenings and events, filmmaker Q&A, after parties and more), or $15 per screening, open to all ages unless otherwise noted. Proceeds benefit NW Documentary.