Last night I had the fine pleasure of accompanying Carrie to the Philly premiere of the new film about San Francisco's track bike riding crew MASH, which was held in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Church. Directed by Mike Martin and Gabe Morford, the movie showcases individual riders racing through traffic brakeless, often helmetless, in harrowing pursuit of graceful speed. The two filmmakers' combined backgrounds in commercial photography and surfing and skate videos are visible throughout the footage which despite its lack of plot is a thrilling romance. This film is big for the world of fixies because it's the first project of its kind to be publicized nationwide and to get corporate sponsorship from companies like Stussy.
It begins with an opening sequence set to a song called "Friends and Family" by this band called the Mall, which I'd never heard of but now cannot get out of my head, and I'm not trying to. In fact this song really set the bar for the following soundtrack which was distractingly good and heavy, making the already impressive shots of the riders jump out of the screen and grip your heart.
I will say this: it reads much like a skate video. But for that, the movie sings because its triumphant and daring characters feel like heroes to even the lowliest commuter cyclist. The cinematography follows the riders as though you are riding behind them, thirty miles an hour through traffic, down hill, and the sensation is not unlike flying. And this feeling, of being there and riding with them, is why anyone who pledges allegiance to two wheels can't help but be transfixed. The tricks and skids are all fine and good but for me, its the speed and the dance that gets me. I don't usually get caught up in fixie bike culture quote unquote, but watching this movie, I felt myself saying "wow" under my breath and forgetting any personal grievances I have about dangerous riding. Because really, all day everyday, riding track bikes in san francisco is so goddamn fucking cool. The silhouettes of people leaning over their bars, bags on their backs, getting there, totally sweeps me off my feet. And all the insane corners, turns, taken through sweeping shots are set against some track like Japanther's "Metal Bike" with its gospel intro pleading "I'm too young to die, Lord, knows I'm too young to die..."
I wish I could have seen footage of them filming the riders, because there are several moments when you realize that this video camera is sliding in and out of cars right along with the guy you're watching and woah. A quote from the filmmakers at the 2007 Bike Film Festival
It's not about stopping - it's about going as fast as you can. Commitment to every line, corner, and hill is what defines the style of these San Francisco riders. Come roll with us.
My only criticism? The only lady riders in the whole movie are in the outtakes. Which, as you might guess, is listed under "special features," which I think though superficial, is also telling.
Here's the trailer, I could watch it over and over:
For more info or additional footage, head over to mashsf.com