Bike-In Movie Night, Pedal Your Way to Outdoor Cinema

June 11, 2012

Glamour, high fashion (whatever that may mean to you), your bike, a little ride from UA to Downtown and a parking lot movie: those are the ingredients for Downtown Bike-In Movie Night.

It’s coming to a parking lot on Jackson Street at 7:30 p.m. June 16, a summer fun collaboration among the Living Street Alliance, the Downtown Tucson Partnership, Ordinary Bike Shop and Pima County Clean Air Program.

Jackson is one block south of Broadway and the lot in question is between Scott and Stone avenues – or just look for where all the people, bikes and movie screen are.

The free-admission film is a documentary called “Bill Cunningham: New York.” It chronicles New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham on the job finding and shooting the  “On the Street” and “Evening Hours”  photo columns, which revolve around fashion.

A high fashion bike ride starts the evening. Meet at the University of Arizona flag pole west of the Old Main fountain at 6:30 p.m. and a group ride will bring people to the movie venue.

“Basically, we’re encouraging people to have fun with it,” said Emily Yetman, president of the Living Street Alliance. “For some gals, it may mean putting on high heel shoes.”

Enter the free raffle to win prizes from Ordinary Bike Shop, and Bike Bling like bells, lights, panniers and messenger bags generously provided by the Pima County Clean Air Program. Prizes awarded to the “Best Dressed” guy and gal. Cyclopsicle Bicycle Powered Gourmet Popsicles will be on hand to cool you off.

“One of the things we’re doing is giving away bike lights,” Yetman said.

This is the first time Living Streets Alliance has paired up a bike ride with a movie, even though the group has been wanting to do one since spring a year ago. Yetman was chatting with Michael Keith, chief executive of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, whose imagination is in overdrive coming up with new events left and right to bring people Downtown.

Biking to a movie right now makes great sense to Yetman.

“It’s a great way to access Downtown right now,” she said.

Cyclists will have an appreciation of Cunningham, who is described as “the Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist.”

“He has been documenting street fashion for a really long time,” Yetman said. “He does it by bike. He toughs it out on the streets of New York.”

The documentary Web site states: “The Bill Cunningham captured here is a puckish, eighty-something man with electric energy and a wish to devour all of New York through his camera lens. Aboard his bike, he weaves through lurching Midtown traffic with his left hand while occasionally snapping drive-by pictures with his right. On foot, he camps out on street corners to assess passing pedestrians, swaying toward passing dresses like someone keyed up for a game of Whac-A-Mole. Then, all at once and with a single swoop, he lunges, snaps, and melts back into urban anonymity.”

Here is a statement from the documentary’s director, Richard Press:

“When people ask how long it took to make Bill Cunningham New York I say ten years: eight to convince Bill to be filmed and two to shoot and edit the film. Had it been any different, Bill wouldn’t have been true to who he is or nearly as interesting a subject to film.

“My fascination with Bill has always gone beyond the work he actually does. Who he is as a person, how he’s chosen to live his life and his almost religious dedication to his work—that is where my curiosity initially resided.

“But how do you make a film about a man who is so private that even the people who have known him for years don’t know anything about him personally?

“Bill’s reticence to be filmed set the practical terms for how the documentary could be made. The spectacle of a camera crew, sound recorder, and boom operator would be impossible. We had to capture him the way he claims to capture his own subjects: ‘discreetly, quietly, and invisibly.’

“As a result, the movie was made with no crew, relying only on small, handheld consumer cameras so Bill wouldn’t feel intruded upon. It had to be a kind of family affair with people he trusted—myself; Philip Gefter, the producer; and Tony Cenicola, a New York Times staff photographer whom Bill knew and liked and who operated one of the cameras.

“There would be no scheduling of Bill’s time for the film. We just had to be at the Times with cameras, ready and waiting, the same way Bill goes out onto the street and shoots—without a preconceived notion of what he’ll find. He says that he lets the street speak to him, and I knew we’d have to take the same approach—believing that over time, the man and the story of the film would begin to reveal itself. “