Using bicycles, the audience itself will provide the power for an upcoming film festival
Your heart races as Dennis Quaid pedals furiously onscreen during the climactic final race in the movie Breaking Away—but not simply because of the tension captured on film—you’ve also been pedaling along on your own bicycle for the past 45 minutes.
Cyclectric, a recently-developed local organization that focuses on bicycling and renewable energy, will partner with the Artemisia Moviehouse to host a three-day “bike-in” film festival, Aug. 3-5. The festival will project seven films using only its attendees’ manpower—as they pump the pedals of their bikes, they turn an electric motor, which powers the film projector.
The films featured in the festival—all bicycle-themed, of course—range from The Bicycle Thief, a 1948 Italian classic, to Pedal, the 2001 documentary chronicle of a New York City bicycle messenger, and conclude with a night of blockbusters, including the animated Triplets of Belleville and Academy Award-winning Breaking Away.
Both Artemesia and Cyclectric have aspirations to educate the public and see this festival as an opportunity to spread the word about renewable energy, bicycle culture and, most importantly, the potential power of the human body.
“There is a lot to learn from movies,” said Robin Dechent, president of the Artemisia Moviehouse. “One of the reasons we started Artemisia was to use film to educate the public. Instead of staying with ideas we already know, we work with other organizations to share their issues with a variety of different people.”
Artemisia often collaborates with local nonprofits or educational organizations to make more interactive film-viewing experiences for its audiences. The Moviehouse itself was formed in 2011 through the joining of two other nonprofit groups, the Great Basin Film Society and the Artemisia.
In the past, Artemisia has worked with groups such as Planned Parenthood to host movies and subsequent panel discussions to expand on and localize the movies’ themes and messages.
“We try to make the movies more local by drawing them back to Reno,” Dechent said. “We bring in local experts to emphasize the community aspect. We want to make the events more social, to make the movie-going experience more intellectually stimulating.”
Cyclectric, though new to Reno and still in its beginning stages, also plans to immerse itself in Reno culture through collaborations with other local organizations, in addition to appearances at special bike-centric events such as last weekend’s Tour de Nez bicycle race through downtown Reno and the Edible Pedal bike ride and fundraiser, which will take place Sept. 16.
So far, the collaboration between Artemisia and Cyclectric has been a great opportunity for both organizations, according to Dechent.
“We wanted to show that we support their ideas very much, especially the manpower aspect,” she said. “People literally power the film festival. We promote manpower and renewable energy, and this is a really good combination of both.”
Cyclectric co-founder Skye Telka cites Reno’s increasing bikeability as well as the emerging arts scene in Midtown as inspiration to pursue the nonprofit organization locally. The city of Reno has recently proven its commitment to a bicycle scene by adding additional bike lanes to some busy streets in the past several years as part of a city project called “road diets,” during which time each road in town comes under review and changes are considered to better accommodate all types of traffic. Additional bicycle lanes have been added on main thoroughfares in downtown and Midtown, including California, Holcomb and Arlington avenues. Sparks has put a median between car and bike lanes.
Other bike-focused organizations, such as the Reno Bike Project, have become ever-present forces in Reno, ensuring that cyclists’ needs are met and promoting bicycling as the most cost-effective and energy-efficient mode of transportation available.
“Our main theme is improving the community and offering this as a resource to get people excited about bikes and movies and Reno culture,” Telka said. “I grew up here, and it’s exciting to see the town become more and more friendly toward young people every day. It’s not something you would expect.”
The idea for Cyclectric began when Telka, who got her start working with Urban Roots Garden Classrooms, joined forces with Andrew Highison of Envirolution with the intent to create a community resource that would be both educational and artistic.
The pair began building bicycle generators and showing them to children in local elementary schools to illustrate energy and power-production. From powering a blender to whip up fresh smoothies to a projector for a three-day film festival, they found that their bicycle generators were an impressive source of power and decided to promote this message on a grander scale.
“When we established this foundation, our main goal was increasing awareness for bicycle advocacy,” Telka said. “We want to make people aware, excited and educated about energy efficiency.”
The group currently has an account on fundraising site IndieGoGo.com, which can be used for donations to the cause or to purchase tickets to events such as the bicycle film festival, in order to raise money to file its official paperwork. For every donation through the website, customers also receive bonus prizes, such as Cyclectric T-shirts or bicycle add-ons, such as LED valve caps or custom-embroidered cycling caps. Those who are able to donate $300 to the cause are offered their own bicycle generators complete with a voltage transformer and AC inverter and are encouraged to power their own film festivals at home.
Money from the ticket sales will go directly back into the building of new bicycle generators and other costs necessary for the organization’s future success.
“We don’t want to make money,” Telka said. “We want to have fun—which we have been—and we want to be a useful resource. We want more people to put on events like this.”
The bike-in film festival will be Cyclectric’s big debut to many members of local bicycle scene, and they are hoping for sizeable turnout—which will be necessary for a festival that relies so heavily on its attendees’ teamwork. Logistically, the event needs to have three people pedaling at any given time in order to power the projector. However, Cyclectric will supply about seven bicycles as well as some backup power in case some cyclists pedal more slowly than others or need to take a break from the exercise.
Telka said she is looking forward to bringing a new nonprofit organization that incorporates art, multimedia, science and green energy to Reno’s constantly-growing scene comprised of already-established local businesses, artistic organizations and educational groups.
“We want people to get excited about what’s going on in Reno,” Telka said.