Cycle to the festival

Cycle to the festival
The audience in Istanbul watching a film screening during the Bicycle Film Festival in September 2014.

SINGAPORE - With at least 10 film festivals in Singapore annually, the options are endless for film fanatics these days.

Next year, another one will join the fray. And it has a distinctive element that sets it apart from the pack - it centres on the humble bicycle.

When the Bicycle Film Festival runs here from March 26 to 29, there will be at least five films screened, both indoors and outdoors, an art show featuring local artists who will create recycled bicycle installations, a gala dinner-cum-auction, a community bicycle ride and post-event parties to end each evening.

There will also be VIP treatment for those who cycle to the events - in the form of valet parking.

Details such as the films to be screened, venues and ticket prices have yet to be confirmed, and will be released closer to the end of the year.

The festival, founded in 2001 in New York by its director Brendt Barbur, 43, serves as a platform to celebrate the bicycle through film, art and music.

The American created the festival after he was hit by a bus in New York while riding a bicycle 15 years ago.

"It was obviously an incident that was profound enough to make me think a lot. I decided to do something positive and the idea of a celebration of bicycles through art, film and music came to mind," he says in an e-mail interview.

The festival has since been showcased in more than 60 cities globally, including London, Istanbul, Hong Kong and Mexico City, with more than a million attendees.

Films shown range from shorts to documentaries to feature films. There are also films specially made for the festival, such as short film Mark On Allen (2010) by renowned director Spike Jonze, and documentary Bike For Bread (2013) by amateur film- makers Claude Marthaler and Raphael Jochaud.

Singapore will be the first South-east Asian nation to host the festival.

Mr Barbur says: "Singapore is the gateway to Asia and it is important to be in Singapore if the Bicycle Film Festival is to spread in this part of the world."

The edition here will be organised by sports marketing and event management company, Firefly Connections.

The company's founder, Mr Lyndon Yeo, who is the consultant to Mr Barbur for South-east Asian matters, says the cycling culture in Singapore needs to be more cohesive.

He says: "There are many cycling groups and more events, but they are self-contained. Nothing comes close to a festival of this nature and magnitude that is all inclusive and combines art with sport."

In the cities the festival has been to, Mr Barbur noticed that it has been "a major catalyst for the resurgence of the bicycle as a major mode of transportation".

He adds: "In London today at rush hour, it is almost impossible not to see bicycles breezing by. City cycling is a major solution to many urban ailments and we would love to share how wonderful life is when you choose to ride daily."

This article was first published on November 21, 2014.
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