Celebration of cycling pedals into town

3 minutes read
Posted 10 May, 2024
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The Big Bike Film Night celebrates cycling in all its different shapes and forms. The programme aims to inspire, featuring a great mix of short films designed for two-wheel enthusiasts. Film goers can expect to be taken on a journey around the world, meeting some incredible characters and passionate cycling advocates, and in the words of the organiser – some bike nutters as well!

This year is the film night’s 10th year and since humble beginnings in Taupō, it has now expanded across Aotearoa and beyond to Australia, Scotland and London. It started in response to vandalism of a biking statue that had recently been erected in Taupō. Now, organiser Brett Cotter’s mission is to bring the best cycling short films from around the world together in one event.

“There was a real outcry in the local community, and I thought, let’s turn this negative into a positive – let’s see if I can do a film festival that celebrates cycling and spread the joy but also help get some money to go towards the statue’s restoration and repairing it,” Cotter says. “We had a phenomenal night that night and people came up afterwards saying ‘that was awesome’ and ‘that was amazing.’ So I was able to donate $2,500 and then thought that this could be a nice little garage project – it’s grown over those ten years to be the beautiful beast that it is now, touring extensively across New Zealand and Australia and these little pockets of joy around other places in the world as well.”

The first time Cotter thought to take the programme outside of New Zealand was in 2017 when someone from Hobart reached out and asked if he’d considering bringing it across the ditch. It started with three screenings in Hobart, Melbourne and Canberra and continued to grow from there.

Double Everest is one of this year’s films and is shot against Queenstown’s panoramic backdrop. It follows boundary-pushing rider Ben Hildred on his latest quest – to do a double Everest. Everesting is a feather few cyclists have in their caps and its concept is fiendishly simple; pick a hill and complete repeats of it in a single ride until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. “For Ben, it’s just another mountain bike ride, but for us mere mortals, it’s utterly bonkers and brilliant; that’s why I love it,” Cotter says.

“The New Zealand films are a real stand out. There’s a really fantastic film called OnWORD. WORD is a non-profit volunteer organisation based in Wellington – WORD stands for World Off-road Riding Department and aims to teach children from ages 11 to 17 to get connected with cycling and the outdoors. A group of the youth riders ride from Wellington to Wānaka and OnWORD is their story. It’s fantastic because in today’s cycling world you see so many stories about 40, 50 and 60 year olds, so to see a story about youth actively doing this is super inspiring for the younger youth to see what they’re doing.”

Each year films can be submitted through the Big Bike Film Night website. The films may be about road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, adventure-based, documentaries, humorous, or something entirely different so long as it shows bicycles in some form. The tour is not a competition, but rather a space for filmmakers to showcase their work, receive merit, help to build international exposure and contribute towards a stronger and more vibrant bike culture.

“A story is a story – it can be animated, it can be cartoon, it can be traumatic, non-fiction, fiction – I’m looking for something that’s actually quite original and creative, but also inspiring to get people out to ride. Our 2024 collection has been the strongest contingent of Kiwi films in the collection, we’ve got four films from New Zealand and six international films. It’s always been about 30-40% New Zealand, and I think New Zealand films provide a heritage story that we can connect with but are also inspiring for international people to see these New Zealand films as well.”

The Big Bike Film Night will screen at Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall on Tuesday, 14 May at 7pm and the Wānaka Community Hub on Wednesday 15 May at 4pm and 7:30pm and on Thursday 16 May at 7pm. The tour will also head to Alexandra and Te Anau as well, you can head to bigbikefilmnight.nz to read more about the programme, stops on the tour, and to pick up tickets.


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