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Critical Mass

Critical Mass (2001, Toronto)
A documentary about Toronto bike messengers and the Toronto Critical Mass ride.

Critical Mass (2001, Austin)
We have exclusive video of a Sept. 2001 Critical Mass ride in Austin in which a motorist intentionally ran over a cyclist.

July 25th - The Secret is Out (1998, 120 min.)
Documents the police riot at the July 25, 1997 Critical Mass ride in San Francisco. ( )

Still We Ride (2005)
Chronicles the controversial police crackdown on the NYC Critical Mass ride coinciding with the 2004 Republican National Convention. ( website ) ( trailer , 8Mb, requires newer Quicktime )

We Aren't Blocking Traffic, We ARE Traffic! (1999, 50 min.)
We Are Traffic! chronicles the history and development of the "Critical Mass" bicycle movement, one of the most spirited and dynamic social/political movements of the apathetic 90's. In over 100 cities in 14 different countries, Critical Mass has now become a monthly ritual of reclaiming the streets by bicycle activists riding en masse.

With traffic congestion, pollution, and road rage on the rise, growing numbers around the world are advocating for transportation alternatives, and Critical Mass is at the cutting edge of this mindset.

We Are Traffic! tracks this leaderless, grassroots movement from its beginnings in San Francisco in 1992 to its spread across the globe. With a radical direct-action approach the participants of Critical Mass are celebrating the bicycle and in turn taking on perhaps the century's most sacred cow: the automobile.

Presenting both the successes and failures of this unique movement We Are Traffic! shows how Critical Mass has brought together complete strangers in an exuberant, commercial-free public space filled with creativity and unpredictability. In its efforts to raise awareness Critical Mass has both inspired and challenged the public while often confounding public officials and police departments.

We Are Traffic! is a fascinating analysis of a modern politicalmovement: Critical Mass--which challenges the very notion of what a political movement should look like and how it should function.

We Are Traffic! investigates vibrant examples of transportation-related art created and displayed in public places, focusing on the work of mural artist Rigo, whose bold traffic-sign motifs ask questions instead of give commands. Also highlighted is the work of other Critical Mass-associated artists including Jim Swanson, Beth Verdekal, and the mysterious "San Francisco Department of Public Art".

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Provocative and entertaining, this documentary presents a side of Critical Mass not seen in mainstream media and illustrates the amazing geographic spread of Critical Mass, providing glimpses of Critical Masses in Austin,TX, Eugene, OR, Chapel Hill, NC, New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Copenhagen, London and Sydney.

We Are Traffic! celebrates modern grassroots politics, free expression and the potential for revitalized public spaces. ( visit the producer's website )


Bicycle Corps: America's Black Army on Wheels (2000, 57 min.)
"In the 1890s, the United States Army thought it could replace the horse with the newly developed and highly popular 'safety bicycle.' Testing this theory, the army sent 20 African-American soldiers on a ride from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri -- 2,000 miles away. This program traces the group's route across the American West through the eyes of two of its riders: the enthusiastic white officer and a black first sergeant whose experience guided and motivated the enlisted men." ( PBS , PBS-buy , IMDB )

Bike Like You Mean It (2002)
" Bike Like U Mean It , a documentary by Susan Kirr and Rusty Martin about Austin's bike community, will screen at SXSW this year [2002]. Many of Austin's bike activists are featured in this film, so you will see a lot of familiar faces, and it is our attempt to portray the culture and the issues surrounding Austin's bike scene: Critical Mass, Yellow Bike Project, Spinning Wheel Project, and Amy Babich's letters to the Chronicle are all featured, to name a few." (Description by the producers.) Order from the National Film Network .

More from the producers:

The new documentary, "Bike Like U Mean It," by Rusty Martin and Susan Kirr, will have its world premiere at SXSW in March 2002. This film is a portrait of Austin's commuter cyclists, those who ride their bikes as transportation, eschewing cars. Outspoken and iconoclastic, they actively promote not only alternative forms of transportation, but an alternative viewpoint toward cities, urban design, lifestyle, and culture. The film features:

*Critical Mass, a monthly "coincidence" of bicyclists riding through downtown rush hour traffic

*The Yellow Bike Project, a small collective of utopian idealists who are trying to put public bikes on the streets and also educate disadvantaged children about how to work on bikes

*The Spinning Wheel Project, dedicated to biking, peace, and non-violence

*Amy Babich and her years-long letter writing campaign to the Austin Chronicle

*Experts discussing alternative forms of energy, transportation, and urban design

Made in Secret: The Story of the East Van Porn Collective (2005, probably)
From the filmmakers' website and press release:

Made in Secret is an enthralling, inspiring and deliciously perplexing labour of love, made over the course of three years by a group of friends who wanted to make a documentary about their local anarcho-feminist porn collective. The only problem was, that collective didn't exist. And so, in order to make the film, they actually became the anarcho-feminist porn collective that they so passionately wanted to document. So is the resulting film a documentary? A fictional drama? Even the collective doesn't know anymore. And ultimately, it doesn't matter, because the movie isn't about what happened or what didn't happen -- it's about what's possible. And the possibilities are huge, transcending the quest for egalitarian porn and touching at the very heart of how we engage with others and with the world around us.

It's about a group of arty, punky, queer-positive, bike-riding anarcho-feminist rabble-rousers who decide to make their own sexy little movies to combat the patriarchial, hetero-normative, exploitive garbage being cranked out by Hollywood and the porn industry.

But in a bigger sense, it's also about the collective process and consensus decision-making. The San Francisco Independent Film Festival described it like this:

"This enthralling movie is something of a minor miracle, tackling some very weighty subjects with an ease and humor that belies the importance of its concerns. It's an unparalleled depiction of a collective at work; a vehicle for airing issues about sex and porn and representation and body image and consumption and filmmaking; and an inspiring portrait of a really smart, lovely, unlikely group of people pushing themselves way out into the unknown."

And it's just plain fun. How many movies have you seen where people talk seriously about the principle of mutual aid one minute and have a mud fight the next? It's got everything! Funny little songs, heart-wrenching meetings, bikes galore, and some of the sexiest films you'll never see.

Paperboys (2001, 58 min.)
"People often ask 'are there still paperboys?' For filmmaker Mike Mills, this was the underlying theme of the film: how traditions stay alive and how they mutate. Were these kids aware that they were part of a long tradition, and how they were changing that tradition?". ( official website )

Return of the Scorcher (1992, 30 min.)
This half-hour documentary looks at bike culture and bike lifestyles around the world with beautiful and inspiring scenes of bike use filmed in China, The Netherlands, Denmark, and the U.S.

In the 1890's, before automobiles ruled the roads, bicyclists were referred to as "Scorchers" because of their blazing speed. A century later, in a world filled with car-related environmental and social problems, Return of the Scorcher discovers an inspired and evolving bicycling renaissance.

This documentary touches on a surprising variety of subjects including romance, rebellion, early feminism, and spirituality -- all viewed within the context of bicycling. Return of the Scorcher questions our obsession with "progress" and status and presents a diverse cross-section of cycling visionaries who see the bicycle as a life-affirming vehicle for change.

Return of the Scorcher features a scene which led to the adoption of the name "Critical Mass" for the rides which now occur around the world and also served as inspiration for Ted's other movie We aren't blocking traffic, We Are Traffic! Bicycle designer George Bliss coins the term "Critical Mass" in describing the flow of bicycle traffic with cars in China.

Suggested University/Classroom use: Environmental studies, Architectural/Urban Design Political Studies, Sociology, Art (public art, performance art, guerilla art). ( visit the producer's website )

Velorution (1996, 27 min.)
When the USSR collapsed, Cuba lost 80% of their oil supply. This movie documents how they bought 1.2 million bicycles, switched 5 bus factories to bicycle manufacture, educated riders on how to ride, posting bicycle signs, dealt with cross harbor bicycle ferries and shuttles, doing job swaps to reduce length of commutes. ( IMDB )

Bike Messengers

Need for Speed (2000, 59 min.)
"So you thought you knew New York? Well, get to know an entirely different New York, seen through the eyes of the city's hippest sub-culture: the hard core bicycle messengers. They adhere to only one motto, 'Either you get better or you get dead'. THE NEED FOR SPEED propels you into the fast and dangerous lives of these adrenaline addicts and their personal struggle for freedom and independence. They are the last free spirits in America, or as Steve 'the Greek' puts it, 'I'm Marco Polo, doomed to New York!'" ( Amazon )

Pedal (2001, 52 min.)
NYC bike messengers. ( IMDB )

Red Light Go (2002)
"For most bike messengers making a living is dangerous enough, but there is a tight-knit community that ride for more than their weekly paycheck. These messengers compete in street races called Alleycats. Speeding through busy streets without rules or sanction from the city, they ride without insurance and sometimes without brakes. These competitors risk their lives for seemingly meager prizes and the respect of their fellow riders.

"In this documentary we take a wild ride alongside a select group of these hardcore New York City bike messengers. We get to know several of them through intimate portraits, and then follow them and their fellow riders in a series of harrowing races through the streets of New York City. Our story culminates witth the annual and much anticipated Halloween night Alleycat, a long and brutal race through rush-hour traffic. We followed this group for nearly two years, at work, on the streets, at home and even in prison." ( website )

Touring documentaries

Hammer and Cycle (2003, 27 min.)
"In the summer of 2003, a group of college friends bicycled across the country, 4000 miles, to raise money and publicity for Habitat for Humanity. Hammer and Cycle is a first-hand account of this adventure, weaving together the stories of four riders as they endure myriad difficulties and celebrate thrilling triumphs." ( CT Central review , official website , Buy from CustomFlix )


Nasty's World (2002, 69 min.)
About BMX champion Cory "Nasty" Nastazio. ( Amazon )

Racing documentaries

The Eddy Merckx Story (1974, 110 min.)
"This movie takes the form of a documentary of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist in the sport. Except for some of the accompanying music and creepy sound effects, it shows the life of a premier cyclist in the early seventies, when the Lemonds and Armstrongs didn't quite bring the visibility of the sport to the US." Available on the same DVD along with The Greatest Show on Earth. ( IMDB , World Cycling )

The Greatest Show on Earth (1974, 75 min.)
"This brilliant documentary shows the majestic beauty that is the Giro d'Italia. It's said that Eddy Merckx's Molteni boss wept like a child in the arms of his beaming star, who went on to win cycling's magical triple crown by taking the Tour de France and the World Championships." Available on the same DVD along with The Eddy Merckx Story. ( World Cycling )

The Hard Road (2003)
Chronicles a professional racing team through a year on the U.S. racing circuit. ( )

Hardihood (2001, 75 min.)
Women's mountain biking. "Brave women in their natural environment: the dirt. Some of them, like Missy and Marla, take on the pro downhill mountain biking circuit - flying down steep, gnarly trails at 50+ mph on tricked out custom bikes." ( Official site , Amazon )

The Impossible Hour (1974, 48 min., Danish)
About Ole Ritter's attempt to break the hour record in Mexico City. Available on the same DVD along with The Stars and the Watercarriers. ( World Cycling , IMDB )

Pro (2004)
"PRO takes viewers on an unforgettable ride into the ultra-elite world of the superstars of professional bike racing: Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Freddie Rodriguez, Mike Sayers, Gord Fraser, Henk Vogels, Mark McCormack, Jonas Carney, Trent Klasna, Michael Creed, Erik Saunders, Tim Johnson and more. These superstars and their teams star in PRO, director Jamie Paolinetti's follow up film to the cult phenomenon, The Hard Road. ( )

The Stars and the Watercarriers (1974, 90 min., Danish)
"follows the fortunes of Danish cyclist Ole Ritter in the 1973 Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). The film's undoubted star, however, is the great Eddy Merckx, who dominates the race from start to finish. The film as a whole gives a good insight into the ins and outs of a 3 week stage race, explaining the roles and aims of the different riders in the race." Available on the same DVD along with The Impossible Hour. ( World Cycling , IMDB )

A Sunday in Hell (1976, aka "For?rsdag i Helvede, En", Denmark)
About a one-day bike race, Paris-Roubaix. ( IMDB )

Races filmed with helmet-cams

NYC Urban Bike Race (2004, directed by Lucan Brunelle)
These are some homemade videos shot from a helmet-cam of a bunch of cyclists zooming through Manhattan with a total disregard for traffic laws, the safety of pedestrians, and themselves. ( watch video )

BicycleCam: Golden Colorado Circuit Race (2000)
How would you like to watch a bicycle race in first person? Meaning, from the perspective of the bike! Thanks to John Bickmore, you can. Bickmore is a professional racer and films the races as he's riding. (What dedication, since the added weight of the camera has to slow him down a bit and hurt his ranking a bit.) Here's his description of the movie of the Golden Colorado Circuit Race: "You race at the front the entire race, up and down the hill on top of Table Top Mountain. You are fighting the wind and the racers and attacking each other! Even Vaughter's attack is sucked up in just 1/2 a lap. The first 800m of the race is the calm before the storm. Then the speed goes up and the attacks try, and try and try the remainder of the race. In-between attacks, a group of 4 get away and near the end a group of 2 hold a gap to the line. You field sprint for 7th place." Order exclusively from .



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