Even among the ever-expanding roster of niche film festivals, the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival is one of a kind. “As far as we have been able to research, it’s the only bike travel film event in existence. Certainly in the USA, we are unique,” says festival director Karin Turer.
Launched five years ago to celebrate Bike Month and to inspire attendees to explore their own or distant environments via bicycle, the festival is the brainchild of Ciclismo Classico, an Arlington company that specializes in bike adventure tours. This year’s event, slated for May 28 at the Regent Theatre, is a benefit for MassBike, the state-wide bicycle advocacy organization. There’s an hourlong reception at 6 p.m., followed by screenings of 11 short films. Family bike travel is the focus of Charles R. Scott’s “Cycling Iceland With Kids,” his documentary about the life-changing highs and lows of circumnavigating Iceland with his10-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. Scott, author of “Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan,” will be on hand for a post-screening discussion.
Also screening is “The Road From Karakol,” Kyle Dempster’s chronicle of his solo bike journey across Kyrgystan, where unpaved and uncharted wilderness were part of the trek. This film earned the festival’s Grand Jury Prize, awarded earlier this year.
For more information, go to www.ciclismoclassico.com/filmfest
Head to the mountains
A more traditional film festival unspools in the scenic western part of the state May 29-June 1. The ninth annual Berkshire International Film Festival opens with “May in the Summer” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, followed by a question-and-answer session with director, writer, and star Cherien Dabis. The film follows sophisticated New Yorker May Brennan (Dabis) to her childhood home of Amman, Jordan, for her wedding and a reunion with her sisters and their long-divorced parents.
Another special event is the documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” (May 31), billed as “an account of one of baseball’s great, unheralded true stories.” In 1973 actor Bing Russell (best known as Deputy Clem on “Bonanza,” and the father of actor Kurt Russell) created what was then the only independent baseball team in America, the Portland Mavericks. His team of MLB rejects and other misfits (he even enlisted son Kurt to play) shattered attendance records and relaunched the career of major league pitcher and “Ball Four” author Jim Bouton. The team’s 10-year-old batboy, Todd Field, would go on to direct the Oscar-nominated drama “In the Bedroom.” Bouton, along with director brothers Chapman Way and Maclain Way (Bing Russell’s grandsons), and producer Juliana Lembi, will field questions following the screening.
Other BIFF highlights include Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur” (May 30), adapted from the Tony Award-winning play by David Ives and starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric. There’s also Stanley Nelson’s documentary “Freedom Summer” (June 1), about the summer of 1964, when more than 700 student volunteers joined with local African-Americans in Mississippi to fight segregation and register black voters — even in the face of intimidation, physical violence, and death. And there’s Stephanie Wang-Breal’s “Tough Love” (May 30), a poignant and powerful look at two struggling families caught up in the foster care system (the film screened recently at the all-doc Salem Film Fest), as well as Beth Harrington’s documentary “The Winding Stream” (May 31 and June 1), which traces the American roots music dynasty built by the Carter and the Cash families from the 1920s through the present day.
For more information, go to www.biffma.org
The Arlington Regent Theatre and the Arlington International Film Festival present “Voices Across the Divide,” a documentary and oral history project that explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through rarely heard personal stories. Filmmaker Alice Rothchild will discuss her film on May 30 following the 7:30 p.m. screening. The film documents Rothchild’s personal journey as an American Jew who begins to understand the Palestinian experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US. The film won the 2013 Audience Award at the Boston Palestine Film Festival.
For more information go to www.regenttheatre.com/details/voices_across_the_divide_documentary_film_and_oral_history_eventLoren King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.