Issue date: 08 October 2010
'The Bristol Bike Project', a documentary produced and directed by Alistair Oldham and shot by Dave Neal of the University of the West of England, has received international interest and widespread acclaim at film festivals and screenings since it was made last summer. The film will be screened at the Unchosen Film Festival at Colston Hall in Bristol on 23 October.
The film, made in collaboration with The Bristol Bike Project, (based in City Road, Bristol), is a short documentary about cycling, recycling and asylum. Set up in 2008 by James Lucas and Colin Fan, The Bike Project, accepts donations of old bicycles and bicycle parts from the public and works with marginalized members of society to recycle them into new, workable bicycles.
The film follows the story of two political refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia, Abdul Aziz and Mohammed Dahir, showing the challenges and difficulties of their lives as they attempt to make their way in a new country.
Since its release the film has received numerous screenings and been shown at over twenty film and video festivals around the world, including screenings at the British Film Institute, The Barbican, the National Film Board of Canada, the Anthology Film Archives in New York (America's leading art house cinema) and the OneWorld documentary festival in Prague. Other cities where the film has been screened include Madrid, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vienna, Galway, Glasgow, Aalst (Belgium), Bochum (Germany), Milan, Lisbon and Seoul as well as numerous screenings in Bristol and throughout the UK. There has also been a touring programme around schools in the Czech Republic, where around 15,000 sixth formers watched the film.
Alistair Oldham, the film's director, says, “In researching the film, I was struck by the dignity and intelligence of the two main characters both of whom professed a real interest in philosophy, politics and religion. As well as telling the story of a great local grassroots project, I also wanted to show how these two men completely contradict the unhelpful negative stereotypes put across by the media about asylum seekers.”
“Part of the film's success is due to its crossover between different interest groups, particularly between the cycling community and groups interested in issues around refugees and sustainability. The film attempts to capture the spirit of freedom that riding a bicycle can give, particularly in individual lives where any sense of freedom and independence have become so marginalized.
“Unfortunately one of the main characters in the film, Abdul Aziz, who is seeking asylum to remain in this country, has now been arrested and is being held in detention at Campsfield Detention Centre near Oxford: in The Bristol Bike Project film he explicitly states how his life will be in severe danger from the Taliban, who have threatened to execute him should he ever return to Afghanistan."
The film was edited by graduating Media Practice student, Stephanie Tasker, the soundtrack was created by James Lucas, and the poster and the DVD cover were designed by Colin Fan.
The film can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/9469007
. For further information about The Bristol Bike Project please go to http://www.thebristolbikeproject.org/