Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Where the wheels meet the camera: the Motorcycle Film Festivals

Motorcycle Film Festivals have become internationally recognized rendezvous, and in just 5 years, it counts its presence in multiple cities around the world. 

The Motorcycle Film Festival (MFF) was founded by and for motorcyclists to celebrate their shared love for the two wheels through a specific art form: film and its various declinations, from short films to documentaries. 

Bikes and cameras are both symbols of freedom, adventures, and dreams; traveling by motorbike can be a powerful source of inspiration, becoming the perfect topic for a film. 

The Motorcycle Film Festival centers its very existence around sharing stories of bikers from different parts of the world.

The two keywords of every MFF are “community” and “passion”. The passion is clearly that for motorcycles that it is celebrated within the community of bikes-lovers. 

The meeting of cinematic art and bikes sparked the proliferation of Motorcycle Film Festivals around the globe: Toronto, New York, Black Hills, Santa Cruz, Portland, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, and Dubai, last year’s new entry.

Across the United States and Europe, and now arriving in the United Arab Emirates, filmmakers who are motorcycle enthusiasts craft breathtaking documentaries, short films, and feature films that have the chance to be watched by a wide audience.

A typical MFF involves a panel of judges (among which there are journalists, photographers, technicians, and sportsmen of the motorcycle world) who have the difficult job of choosing the winners for each film’s category. 

Depending on the specific festivals, the categories might vary.

Last year’s Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival counted the following awards: Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Narrative, Best Canadian Film, and the People’s Choice Award, where the public could vote for their favorite film. 

Usually, the screenings of the films are followed by the Q&Asession with actors/actresses and directors, which gives the audience the chance to interact with personalities of the motorcycling world. 

Now, are you an (amateur) filmmakers who has a brilliant idea – or, why not, already something shot! – and would like to participate in an MFF

Whether it is a road movie, a fiction, or a documentary, you can submit your two-wheels-related work to the selection committee of any MFF and – maybe – be chosen for public screening! 

Participating is very easy: each MFF has an official website where you can find the “submit you film” section.

And now, are you curious about when and where the next MFFs will be?

Here is the updated list of the Motorcycle Film Festivals 2022 Edition.

As you can imagine, due to the current pandemic, not many festivals have been confirmed (yet). 

What we know so far is that: 

There is still hope for new festival dates to come up. As the 2020 editions demonstrate, moving the MFFs online is more than possible. 

For instance, the Black Hills Motorcycle Film Festival (BHMFF), which took place in August 2020, had proven to be a successful – and a free – occasion of (virtual) encounter for motorcycle enthusiasts within and beyond South Dakota. 

The BHMFF was put together by the Rev Sisters, three friends who share the love for everything two-wheeled.

Liza, Michelle, and Shana became friends during the global event of the Woman Riders World Relay, and after a lot of meetings and planning, they founded Rev Sisters to organize motorcycle-related events and share their passion with the community of bikers-lovers, as well as with everyone who is just curious about the motorcycle culture and wants to learn more about it.

The next Rev Sisters Motorcycle Film Festival will take place in October 2022.

2021 had given us another “first”: the first edition of the Dubai Motorcycle Film Festival (DMFF). 

Held in September over three days, the DMFF was a great success. Besides having landed a motorcycle film festival in the United Arab Emirates, the DMFF had extended the awards up for grab including the categories of ‘best drone cinematography’ and ‘best original soundtrack’, in addition to the more common categories of ‘best feature documentary’ and ‘best dramatic film’. 

There has been a couple of memorable moments during the first DMFF: the short documentary Rebel Riders, about a community of riders in Indonesia who is dedicated to modifying the iconic Italian Vespa, is surely one of these moments.

Another special one was the screening of the short film Why We Ride, an exceptional insight into the lives of women bikers who ride onto the dunes of the Emirate desert. 

Films about women who ride motorcycles are becoming more and more popular, and they are important because, as it was said by the director of Why We Ride, Michael Vosloo, these films can change people’s misconception that riding a bike is not a woman’s business.

Moving onto another “first”, the Motorcycle Film Festival of Lisbon was firstly organized in 2016, officially bringing the MFF in Europe.

The LMFF was born thanks to the efforts of a group of friends who, sharing their passion for arts and motorcycles, were inspired by the New York Motorcycle Film Festival. 

The Lisbon chapter of the MFF has now arrived at its 6th edition. This year’s Lisbon Motorcycle Film Festival will take place at the Cinema São Jorge, which hosted the festivals in all of its past editions.

As the numerous editions demonstrate, the MFFs are very popular within the motorcycle community. This is why there are new festivals every year, and they are usually put together with the explicit intent of sharing the passion for motorcycles. 

For instance, Caius Tenche, founder of the Toronto chapter of the MFF, told in an interview for Inside Motorcycle that he organized the first edition of the TMFF in September of 2017, following his love for motorcycling and bike-themed films. 

Tenche’s excitement for an artistic and cultural event that has its focus on bikes and bikers is what still gives life to the TMFF, arrived at its 6th edition.

The very same excitement is shared by the president and founder of the French Riviera Motorcycle Film Festival, Olivier Wagner. 

Being a story-teller and video-maker himself, he has been shooting digital films on motorcycle stories, of course. In his own words, “motorcycles are a powerful vector of freedom, whether it’s adventure, off-road riding, road racing or vintage bikes”. 

At the heart of the FRMFF, there is the goal of sharing Wagner’s passion for motorcycles with the community of two-wheeled lovers through the screening of works of amateur and professional filmmakers from all over the world. 

Here we have again the two keywords that are the pivot of every MFFs: passion and community. 

While we wait for the next Motorcycle Film Festivals to begin, let’s make it more pleasant by taking a look at the winners of the 2022 edition of the French Riviera Motorcycle Film Festival.

List of awards

  • Best Short Film – Sfumato, by Amirali Mirderikvand, Iran
  • Best Long Film – 972 Breakdowns – On The Landway to New York, by Daniel von Rüdiger, Germany 
  • Audience Award – Johann Zarco – L’audace d’un champion, by Bernard Fau, France
Marica Felici
Marica Felici
Writer at RnT, anthropologist and historian, I am a hopeless wanderluster. I've been traveling since I was a child, and growing up my desire to explore far and wide couldn't be stopped. My biggest dream was to travel in the United States, and I did it for a while – but, honestly, not enough. Next time, you will see me on a Harley-Davidson wandering Route 66. In the meantime, I work as a freelance writer and translator, and I do what my heart wants the most: traveling the world.

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