The Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) came to a close on Saturday, Dec 12, with the film part of the equation, three screening slots at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach. Program 1 at 5 PM showed WHERE DO YOU START WHERE DO YOU STOP and TOUR OF LEGENDS/ TOUR DES LEGENDES; Program 2 at 7 PM showed MADE IN QUEENS and WHERE ARE YOU GO; and Program 3 at 9 PM showed 17 short films. Because of it being a Saturday night and us having to wait till Shabbat ended to get ready and make it down to the theater, we only caught Program 3 at 9 PM, though this is the one I was most interested in. The BFF had other events associated with it on the two previous days, including a couple of parties, a Goldsprint, and two races. I only attended the one screening on Saturday and none of the associated events, so I guess you can make that statement my caveat for the review.
First of all, kudos have to go out to everyone who worked hard to get this event down to Miami and put it together. It couldn’t have been easy, and I only get to have an opinion because your dedication gave me the opportunity to experience this event. For that I am very grateful.
In general, I liked the BFF and wished I could have made all the screenings (or had more opportunities to see the films). The Colony Theater was a very nice venue to host the festival, with ample space for the audience (the 9 PM program did not sell out, but it was fairly well attended). The location right at the end of Lincoln Rd meant that the bikes could all be near the theater, thanks to the Bike Valet service offered by the Green Mobility Network. I have to say, it’s normal to see lots of bikes on Lincoln Rd, but it was a treat to the eyes to see the large extra contingent drawn in by the film festival.
This is the BFF’s 9th year but the first one in Miami so it’s hard to judge it in context. As a stand-alone event, I find I want to like the BFF a whole lot more than I actually did. And I did like it, don’t get me wrong, but I guess it had built up a hype that didn’t deliver for me. I don’t care about the parties, and I especially don’t care the least for the races, so those were inconsequential to my experience of the festival (though I’d venture to say that for most people I saw at the theater, these would be some of the highlights). More screening opportunities, the associated art shows that were seen in some of the other BFF venues, local bike company spotlights (we’re not Portland but we do have a couple), these would have been more in line with my experiences at other film festivals and/or what I was expecting.
I understand it’s the first year here, and that they probably only had use of the venue for the one day so screenings had to be the way they were. Perhaps an alternative venue can be used in coming years that will allow for more screenings (some of the venues around the world had two- and three-day screening programs, so it can be done). I guess the way this BFF connected with the local scene was through the two races; seeing how I’m not a racer nor into that kind of riding (whether fast or illegally), it left something to be desired. Then again, when considering the make up of the audience I saw at the 9 PM screening, it was painfully obvious that (a) it was the racing/fixie/hipster subcultures that most responded and supported the BFF this year (thus I was in the minority) and (b) that the BFF (whether by design or limitation) did not advertise enough to reach beyond the subculture pockets into the mainstream.
All this said, I am thankful that the BFF made it to Miami and I hope it can make it down here again next year, so it has a chance to improve and grow.
I’ll review the 17 short films from Program 3 in a separate post(s) as I have a lot more to say there.