Bicycle Film Festival makes its debut visit to Tallinn

  • 2011-06-01
  • By Laurence Boyce

TWO-WHEEL STORIES: The Bicycle Film Festival rolls into town with its collection of films showing everything enjoyable about pedaling around.

TALLINN - Cycling is close to the heart of many an Estonian both as a formal sport (as the Estonian Cycling Weekend, which finished this past week, proved) and an extreme urban pastime (witness the Simpel Session, taking place in Tallinn during the early months of the year, that’s a forum for BMX and skateboard riders from Estonia and beyond). So it’s surprising that the Bicycle Film Festival has taken so long to reach the shores of Tallinn. The festival originated in 2001 when founding director Brendt Barbur was hit by a bus whilst riding his bike in New York City. Rather than deter him from ever traveling on two wheels ever again, the experience made him want to celebrate bicycling through film, music and art.

This year between June 2-4 Tallinn joins cities such as London, Milan and Tokyo in hosting the festival and helping it celebrate its 11th year. The BFF Tallinn marks the most northern point that the festival has ever traveled to in Europe and will celebrate how much the city and country has developed its love for the sport and pastime of cycling.
“I am more than happy to see the festival in a city that really needs the inspiration that the BFF originally manifests – love for bicycles,” said Brendt Barbur. “BFF and the local bike scene will mutually benefit from the Estonian team’s vast experience in organizing the world-acclaimed Simpel Session contest and true enthusiasm for developing bike culture.”

With 5 features and 38 shorts on show, the festival shows how film is perfectly placed to capture the majesty and intricacy of bicycling. From impressive stunts to breath-taking scenery, the films will no doubt inspire many to broaden their bicycling horizons (especially those who’ve done nothing more than cycling to the shops) and see just how fun two wheels can be.
Highlights include Estonia’s own “Simpel Dream,” which follows the dreams and aspirations of local BMX rider Kristjan Aasmae. Examining both the local BMX scene and the community that has arisen around the annual Simpel Session, the film should provide plenty of insight into what makes Tallinn such a popular place for bicycling. There’s also “Riding the Long White Cloud,” a film which sees seven professional skateboarders attempt to cycle New Zealand’s North Island.

This is both a paean to the freedom that extreme sports can offer, with the protagonists alternating between bicycling and searching the island for skate spots and to the beauty of the island. Sightseeing has never been so much fun. Other films include “Birth of Big Air,” a documentary on BMX legend Mat Hoffman that was produced by Spike Jonze and ‘Lucas Brunelle: Line of Sight’ in which the titular rider gives the viewer a unique perspective on unsanctioned street races via a head mounted camera. And there’s a chance to see the classic ’80s short film “On Time,” about a bike messenger who must negotiate the treacherous city of New York to make sure that a package is delivered on time (as you may have guessed from the title).

Aside from watching, you’ll also get the chance to participate close up with Red Bull Mini Drome contest in the heart of Tallinn (a contest which is open to everyone), enjoy a late night group ride ending with a BFF party, see an exhibition of the works of Finnish custom bike master Olli Erkkila, and enjoy the launch of Estonia’s own custom bike brand Anthony Clay.
“Despite the fact that Tallinn’s urban cycling scene is still quite small, the number of people “converting” to bicycles as a means for commuting is growing rapidly, counter culturing the over-automobilized and under-bikelaned city,” said Risto Kalmre, main organizer of both BFF Tallinn and Simpel Session.

So make sure that your tires are puncture free and ride down to the Bicycle Film Festival and be inspired to travel even further on two wheels.

The 11th Bicycle Film Festival Tallinn runs from June 2-4.
For more information on venues and tickets visit or