Bicycle Film Festival: The Cycle Continues

Marissa Plamondon-Lu, organizer of Montreal’s fourth annual Bicycle Film Festival, talks to us about the international phenomenon of the festival, her faves of the fest and the local cycling scene.

Biker mama: Georgena Terry

Marissa Plamondon-Lu, of local bike shop Bikurious, is in the middle of changing a tire when reached on the phone. But she’s happy to talk about Montreal’s Bicycle Film Festival, which she’s organizing for the fourth year in a row.

The fest is an international affair, screening in multiple cities around the world with each lineup tweaked by local programmers. Plamondon-Lu, a Toronto native who’s made Montreal her home for five years, was inspired after attending one of the fests while travelling.

“I went to the BFF in New York, and I fell in love with all these cyclists coming together and enjoying bikes through movies,” she recalls. “Maybe they’re from different demographics, but it was this very beautifully put-together event. I decided that Montreal deserved to have it here, so I found out who was organizing it. It turned out that no one was, so I’ve just kind of been stuck with it for four years,” she laughs.

This year’s edition, screening over two nights at Cinéma du Parc, includes contributions from all over the world in both documentary and fiction. Asked to list some favourites, Plamondon-Lu names the opening film, Danish doc We Love Bikes (“it really makes your heart swell”), UK fictional short Boy, Georgena Terry, a portrait of the woman who invented a bike tailored for women’s bodies (“she’s a pretty witty and feisty lady”) and Sister Session, a doc on women riders at a BMX conference (“for me, women and cycing is something I’m very passionate about”).

The audience for this kind of festival might seem quite specialized, but, says Plamondon-Lu, “it surprises me every year. It thrives off bike couriers and messengers, but now you just have film fans who are curious… and people bring their parents, just to say ‘come see why I love this thing.’”

At any rate, between the Bixi program and the city’s ongoing expansion of its bike lanes, the demographics of the cycling community could be opening up. I asked Plamondon-Lu about the local cycling scene in general. “There are flaws, and improvements to be made both for cars and cyclists, especially in the downtown core, but all in all there are some very positive developments,” she reflects. “I think cyclists here are really lucky, if you think about it.” ■


The Bicycle Film Festival screens Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at Cinéma du Parc.

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