Counting down to TCFF: Bikes Over Baghdad documentary review

In about three months time, one of the most exciting event in my neck of the woods is touching down. YES, the Twin Cities Film Fest starts on FRIDAY, October 12 through Saturday, Oct. 20!

I can’t wait to be a part of the festivities again as the official blogger. So from now until then, I’ll be posting advanced screening reviews/announcements relating to the event. For more info, click on the banner to go to the official site and also LIKE TCFF on Facebook!


Just what is Bikes Over Baghdad?

A word from the director from their website:
Bikes over Baghdad was a tour comprised of a team of a dozen action sports heros and legends. We traveled to the middle east six separate times with each tour roughly two weeks in length, facing extreme conditions, mortar rounds, IED’s, injury, exhaustion and more, but never missing a show. And while the team read like a who’s who of action sports, egos were put aside and nothing short of a series of miracles were performed.

Minnesota-based filmmaker Christian Schauf and his brother Zachary were the ones who came up with the idea. Their band Catchpenny traveled numerous times to Iraq. Last month, Schauf brought his cast-members of his documentary for a Friends & Family event for an advanced screening. The cast also held a Q&A following the screening at SHOWPLACE ICON Theaters in Minneapolis. Check out the photos from the event:

My review:

I’m glad I got to see this film on the big screen. Bikes Over Baghdad is well-made doc, it’s energetic, fun, and exuberant with dynamic music playing throughout, including Schauf’s band Catchpenny. I’m not even a BMX show fan but I was engrossed in the film and the experience of putting together these shows from base to base.

What I like about this doc is that it’s not just about the extreme sports itself. I mean they are fascinating in its own right of course, I mean these BMX riders pull massive aerials on quarter pipes and vertical half pipes. They’re such daredevils! I always gasp every time I see them leap high into the air with their bikes over and over again. But their mission to boost morale for the troops in Iraq, Kuwait, etc. are what makes this film so intriguing.

The film shows a good balance of one-on-one interviews with the performers and the troops, the ramps building and the fascinating, gravity defying show itself. The editing is done in a way that isn’t boring. It’s cool to see the reaction of the troops when they’re watching these exhilarating events. They look genuinely in awe and thankful that these BMXers went all the way from the States to give them a form of ‘escapist entertainment’ and let them forget their arduous tasks, even for just a couple of hours.

There’s plenty of humor and whimsical rapport amongst the BMX team, but it also shows the poignant, tragic side when the base got attacked during the show and a few of the troops perished just as the show was going on. It was an emotional moment for the BMX riders and it showed. It’s pretty crazy to see the kind of injuries the performers endure, on top of the lack of sleep and extreme heat. Yet they are passionate about what they do and each of them work so hard day in and day out. It’s apparent that they do this out of love and respect for the troops.

Ron Kimler and Nate Wessler resting in between ramp-building and lamenting on heat rash – photo courtesy of BMX.Transworld.net

Nate Wessel is my fave character, he’s the dread-locked fellow who’s the primary builder of the ramps. His ramp-building skills is amazing and he’s also a professional BMX rider himself. I don’t know how he could get the ramps set up in a matter of 2 hours, a fraction of the time it normally takes, working in 120+ degree-days no less!

The highlight is the visit Sadam’s old palace called Price of Victory palace and biking around inside where it would’ve been impossible for anyone to go into. Check out the trailer below:


I highly recommend this documentary when it’s released in your area or on DVD.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

..Stay tuned next week for review and Q&A event of:


Any fan of BMX sports out there? Thoughts on Bikes Over Baghdad?

TCFF 2012 presents ‘Question One’ documentary

The third annual TCFF event is just around the corner and I look forward to covering the festival again as I’ve done in the past two years. This year we kicked things off early with encore screenings of:

Question One Documentary

Directed by: Joseph Fox and James Nubile

108 minutes

Closely following Proposition 8 in California, a referendum battle on same-sex marriage tore apart the state of Maine. Filmed from within both campaigns, “Question One” chronicles the fierce and emotional battle that took place and reveals the tactics and strategies that led Maine to become the 31st state in this country to say no to same-sex marriage.

Check out the trailer below:

SCREENING INFO:

Dates: May 14th – May 19th @ 7PM 
(Thursday showing is SOLD OUT)

Location: Theatres at Mall of America
60 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Click here to purchase ticket(s)

Minneapolis local paper The Star Tribune ran this commentary article written by director Joe Fox on what he learned filming the campaign over same-sex marriage in Maine. Fox said that, ‘As a storyteller and journalist, it was important for me to create a film that did not take sides. I wanted to make a film that held up a mirror and reflected the complexity of an issue, but I also wanted to honestly capture the human stories of all.’

To learn more about the film and the filmmakers, be sure to visit the Fly on the Wall Productions website. I’m still hoping to secure an interview with Joe Fox, hopefully that’ll happen yet this week. I’ll post it as soon as it becomes available.


Tickets for the screening of Question One tonight will be available at the Theatres at Mall of America at 6pm. $10 cash or credit.