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Bicycle Film Festival Starts Tonight + Interview With Organizer Tyler Bowa

Nov 5, 2015 | 12:41 Thu
Forever peddling community events, bike shop Factory Five has been putting in work on perhaps their biggest endeavor yet -- this weekend's Bicycle Film Festival. The fest has hit 50 cities around the world since its inception in 2001, which founder Brendt Barbur conceived after he got hit by a bus in NYC.

Hosted on the roof of high–end "creative space" Anken Air, the three–night fest includes a photo show and an after-party at Arkham with Deftones member Sergio Vega. Ahead of that, we chatted up Factory Five co-owner / drummer–in–every–Shanghai–hardcore–band Tyler Bowa for some more details. 

The watchful Bowa in his natural habitat.

How did Factory Five get involved with hosting China's first Bicycle Film Festival?

Tyler Bowa: We've always been fans of the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) and for a few years have pondered the idea of bringing it to mainland China. So, last year Jeff took a trip to Taiwan to check out the Bicycle Film Festival over there, and got talking with the founder Brendt Barbur. After throwing some ideas back and forth, we came up with a proposal to bring to the Ministry of Culture. The guys in the head office really liked the idea, giving us a good feeling to move forward.

This all went down in February, and since then it's been paperwork, contracts, and a whole lot of translation to get the films ready (Don't worry, all films have English and Chinese subtitles). As with most first time events in China, it's a go-big-or-go-home mentality. We're pushing to make this a really big success so that we can help bring the BFF to other parts of China next year. 

What impact has the BFF had on the international biking community?

Tyler: The BFF has not only helped unite bike enthusiasts of all kinds (roadies, mountain riders, commuters, fixie hipsters), but it's been used as a leverage point in many countries to help increase cycling awareness and the benefits that can be brought to large metropolitan cities. It has really been one of the key events worldwide that has helped flourish the current bike movement.

Besides the film viewings what are some of the other elements to BFF?


Tyler: BFF is always known for throwing killer parties. This year we've got a photo exhibition on Thursday November 5, showing the history of BFF over the past 15 years. There'll be a Q&A session with the founder Brendt Barbur, and also the chance to meet world famous bike videographer, Lucas Brunelle.

Then on Friday November 6th we're throwing an after–party at Anken Air with local DJs Lindberg, Frau and PCJ. To top it all off we're flying in Sergio Vega from the Deftones to play at Arkham on Saturday November 7, with support from Come Correct Crew.

All parties are completely free and we've got a ton of gift bags (cycling tool kits from Levis, swag from Adidas, gift cards from F5) to give away over the weekend. Plus, at all screenings and both parties at Anken Air we're offering Levis Commuter valet bike parking. Show up with your bike, our valet service will tag it and give you a ticket, and you can collect your bike when you leave - no need to bring a lock or worry about someone pinching your ride.


So…why is the dude from Deftones DJing?

Tyler Well, Brendt Barbur has been friends with Sergio for a long time. We told him that Levis Commuter was down to help us throw a huge party, so he got in touch with Sergio and we made it happen. If you've ever listened to the Deftones then you know they're quite progressive and dark. Sergio's DJ style is pretty similar, so it should be something really special.

What's different about the Shanghai edition compared to other cities?

Tyler: For the first time in BFF history we'll be screening all the films in the outdoor cinema we've been planning on top of the Anken Air complex. It's pretty badass, actually. You get to watch the films, but revel in the awesome Shanghai skyline at the same time.

Factory Five has been the leading Shanghai group for organizing community oriented bike events. I know sometimes that has left you guys in some hot water. Are you concerned about throwing another event on such a large scale?

Tyler: It's true, our night rides were shut down once they started reaching 500 people strong every week, and our Alleycat races got shut down back in 2012 when we had close to 1,000 people bombing the streets in pure panic mode. Since then we've been flying low on the radar, but for this event we've been very communicative with "The Man". They understand that the BFF is a great way to safely push cycling culture in Shanghai.

Are there any bicycle films from Mainland China featured?

Tyler: Currently there are no films from Mainland China, but there are a few from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. My favorite is definitely the new film by Lucas Brunelle where he sneaks into Chernobyl and goes on this crazy expedition on his bike. The screenings on Friday feature a lot of shorter movies, all under 10 minutes long. On Saturday the screenings have a couple short films, then one full length feature film each. On Sunday we're repeating a screening from Friday, and one from Saturday to complete the mix.

Besides the BFF, what else is on Factory Five's plate?

Tyler: We just finished our "Shanghai to Moganshan and Back Race" and we're planning a few more events of that style for early 2016. If things go well with BFF then we'll be bringing it back next year, and we've been working on setting up a criterium series in Shanghai (for those that don't know, that's closed circuit racing) with the hopes of locking in a Shanghai date for the world famous Red Hook Criterium. Nothing concrete yet, but a lot on the mix.
The Bicycle film festival runs Thursday–Sunday at Anken Air. Tickets are 100rmb per day. Here's a full listing of the films being shown, and here's a few previews:
Havana Bikes (Showing Friday, November 6th) 

Sister Session (Showing Friday, November 6th) 

Lucas Brunelle Goes to Africa (Showing Saturday, November 7th) 

Fix the Iceland (Showing Saturday, November 7th) 


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