Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist


12 years ago Marco Pantani was found dead, alone in his hotel room surrounded by cocaine, and our May film, to coincide with the Giro d’Italia, will be the screening of James Erskine’s powerful and moving documentary on the rise and fall of this controversial man.

Pantani was an extraordinary talent, driven by passion who captured the heart of the Italian nation.  He rode with a showmanship, swagger and panache that together with his appearance gave him the nickname Il Parata – The Pirate.  The fans on the mountain roadside will still display banners and graffiti in celebration and rememberance of Il Parata taken from them too early and in disgrace.  Was he sinner or sinned against and Erskine’s film explores that line.  Glory comes at a price and with Pantani this price was too much to pay invovling as it did a spiralling web of conspiracy, corruption, big business and doping that led to his complete destruction.

The title of the film is based on Dario Fo’s play Accidental Death of an Anarchist, a study of morality and bureaucracy in which plenty of people are complicit in a death that none of them need take responsibility for. The comparisons with Pantani and pro cycling as a whole over the last 20 years strike a powerful chord.

Join us for the journey into the dark heart of one of cyclings most charismatic and tragic figures – The Pirate and the murky seas he sailed in.

Date: 23 May at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £6 in advance (tickets can be bought via the eventbrite link opposite)

BMX Bandits


The term cult classic is surely overused but this film must be in with a shout of being the genuine article.  Before Nicole Kidman took up a career cavorting with stuffed meerkats she used to be an actress and before she was famous she made her debut in this 80’s romp of kitsch and colour, set to the tune of an 80s synth soundtrack which maintains a buzzing energy throughout.

The film is perhaps a classic episode of Scooby Doo brought to life with the pesky kids taking on the villains and winning as they whizz around Sydney on BMX bikes careering through through various locations via a close up montage of helmets, kneepads, wristbands and pedals.

It was shot by Australian cinematographer John Seale, who went on to win an Oscar in 1996 for his work on a very different film: The English Patient. Low angle shots of cars, bikes, tracks, pavement, tyres gives the film a whooshing immediacy. While director Trenchard-Smith plays with the idea of kids as both problems and solutions.


BMX Bandits is a splash of brightly coloured, family fun mayhem.  Relive the 80’s with tales of your bunny hopping badness.  This film also of course gave it’s name to another cult classic – the indie band of the same name.

Date: 18 April at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £5 (tickets can be bought via the eventbrite link opposite)

All proceeds from this screening will be going to St Gemma’s Hospice #forJenn

A Sunday in Hell


Classics season is upon us and to celebrate the forthcoming battles on the cobbles we are showing the classic documentary A Sunday in Hell, directed by Jorgen Leth

This Danish film is a chronology of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix race.  The race, along with the Tour of Flanders, is one of the most spectacular and feared one day races.  It features narrow sections of rough cobbled tracks that choke with dust on dry days and become slick and muddy in rain.  These challenging conditions mean that punctures and crashes are inevitable but if you do then getting back to the head of the race is real challenge.  To win is to go into cycling immortality and the winner receives one of the most iconic trophies in sport – a huge cobble stone like the ones they have just ridden over.

The film captures not just the events of the 1976 edition but the atmosphere of a professional race from the perspective of participants, organisers and spectators.  Each classics race is a duel between a few contenders, with outsiders looking to upset the odds, and the film begins by introducing the contenders Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaemink, Freddy Maertens and Francesco Moser each with their supporting riders who are charged with helping their team leader win.

The film gives views of the team directors, protesters (the race is halted for a while), spectators, mechanics and riders.  As the cobbled sections are entered the selection begins, riders puncture, crash, make the wrong move and the race plays out.  By the finish at the velodrome in Roubaix only a select few will be left to fight it out for the win.  Post race the exhausted riders, mired in dirt, give interviews in the velodrome’s showers, each cubicle is now adorned with the name of a previous winner.

Join us on 14 March at The Reliance in Leeds and enjoy an iconic documentary of an iconic race.

Date: 14 March at 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Cost: £5 (tickets can be bought via the eventbrite link opposite)


The Kid With A Bike

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Our February screening on 15 Feb will be the award winning The Kid With A Bike:

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the deeply moving film by the Dardenne brothers delves into the emotional life of troubled 11-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret). When his father (Jérémie Renier) abandons him, Cyril obsessively searches for his bicycle – placing his last bit of hope in this symbol of their relationship. Almost by accident, he becomes the ward of a kind hairdresser (Cécile de France), who seems surprised to find herself so determined to help him. With his wild, unpredictable behavior and his disastrous search for father figures, Cyril risks losing her – though she refuses to give up without a fight.

Date: 15 February

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street Leeds LS2 7PN GB

Tickets: £4.10 (plus eventbrite booking fee) in advcance via the eventbrite link opposite

Janapar – A Love Story


We are going to kick off 2016 with Janapar an incredible story of adventure, love and enlightenment.

Janapar is an award-winning true story, filmed over four years in thirty-two countries by one man on a bicycle.  23-year-old Tom Allen is all set for a 9-5 career in IT, trouble is, he can’t help wondering whether there’s more to life.  So Tom sets off on the ultimate adventure: cycling around the world.  Despite his lack of experience, Tom cycles and camps his way across three continents, encountering a vivid cast of friends and foes.

But the journey takes an unlikely detour when Tom meets Tenny, a feisty Iranian-Armenian girl with dreams of her own, and hits a crossroad.  Should he give up his grand plan for the girl he loves, or cycle off and risk missing out on the greatest adventure of them all?  His decisions lead him to the depths of the Sahara desert, where – amid challenges unimaginable – he catches a glimpse of the answer he set out to find.

Date: Monday 18 January  2015

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds

Tickets: £4.5 (plus eventbrite admin fee) in advance via the eventbrite link opposite

Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle

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Amazingly my idea to have a monthly film night themed around the humble bike appears to be working and our November evening will be the thoroughly enjoyable documentary Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle

Anyone who rides a bike regularly will at some time have dreamt about owning their dream bike.  This may not be the ‘best’ bike but simply the best bike for them, the type of rider they are, where and when they ride.  Author and journalist Rob Penn decided to do just that, to create his dream bike.  In doing so he travels the world meeting the prioneers, mavericks and creators to put the parts together for his perfect bike, meeting some fascinating characters along the way.

The Ride of My Life however not just the story of a bike obsessive getting his dream bike built, it also tells the history of the humble machine from Baron Karl Drais’s ‘running machine’ through to the bikes we know today.  In doing so Rob engagingly tells the story of how the cycling pioneers were drivers of social progress way beyond their early imaginings.

This will be the fourth of our film evenings before we take a break for Christmas and the small charge we are making for this hour long documentary will be going to St Gemma’s Hospice in rememberance of Jenn #forjenn #jennride



The first two film nights have been a great success I think, both events sold out and people have really seemed to enjoy themselves which is what it’s all about.  The third film night brings a very special film Wadjda and this is really not one to be missed.

Susan Brownwell Anthony was a prominent civial rights leader and campaigner to secure women’s suffrage in the United States who once said  “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”  How relevant is this quote today in parts of the world were universal suffrage has not been acheived ?

The film Wadjda is a film of firsts, a funny romantic comedy set in Saudi Arabia.  It’s the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature film to be made by a female Saudi filmaker in a country where cinemas are banned and women cannot drive or vote.  It tells the story of a young ten year old girl (Wadjda) determined to raise enough money to buy a bike to race her friend Abdullah in a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue.  In order to try to raise the money Wadjda enters a Qur’an reading competition at school which offers her the chance to win the money for the bike. So she acts the model student and gets her head in the book. The real reason for her new-found interest in devout study is kept secret.

Wadjda is a film about working for change under the radar, with small victories and shows there are subtle ways to attack injustice.  Director Haifaa Al-Mansour criticism of her country is delivered inside a love letter to her people and to custom and this approach like Wadjda’s in the film is perhaps the way change happens as the film’s nomination as Saudi Arabia’s 2013 Oscar contender is arguably an implicit nod of approval from the country’s mainstream.

Date: Monday 19 October 2015

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds

Tickets: £5 (plus eventbrite admin fee) in advance via the eventbrite link opposite

Rising From Ashes


Following on from the great first film night the second event is going to be the documentary Rising From Ashes.  I’m keen for the film club to feature all sorts of films, documentaries and shorts as well as featuring all types of bike and cycling styles.

Rising From Ashes is an uplifting documentary bringing a little known story to life about the creation of the first Rwandan National Cycling Team. The title has a double meaning that refers not only to the tremendous spirit displayed by the athletes as they struggle to overcome the horrific legacy of the genocide that occurred a generation earlier, but also the personal redemption of the famed American cyclist who led them.

Bicycles have a prominent role in Rwanda (known as the The Land of a Thousand Hills) as they are a primary means of transport.  American bike builder Tom Richey explored the country on his mountain bike in 2005 and met a group of cyclists who called themselves Team Rwanda.  Inspired by their dedication, Richey enlisted his friend and former rival Jock Boyer, who was the first American to participate in the Tour de France, to become their coach.

The film details his subsequent years long efforts to whip the Rwandan team into enought shape to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.  Among his riders is Adrein Niyonshut who lost 60 members of his family, including six brothers, in the 1994 genocide.  The documentary avoids melodramatics but tells the moving and powerful story. 

Date: Monday 28 September

Time: 7pm

Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds

Tickets: £4.50 (plus eventbrite admin fee) that can be purchased via the link opposite

Breaking Away


We are going to kick off Leeds Bicycle Film Club with the 1979 cult classic Breaking Away, which many years ago I can remember watching and jumping on my ‘racer’ and tearing around the hills of South Wales imagining that I was taking on all comers.

A Midwest American college town in the 1970s is the setting for this coming-of-age tale about four working-class teens who are trying to escape their parents’ working class fates. Class consciousness and conflicts abound, as local college kids refer disparagingly to the protagonists as “Cutters.” The blue-collar stone-cutters literally built the homes the rich kids live in and the college that these kids attend. Dennis Christopher is Dave, a relentlessly fanatical bicyclist who has suddenly decided to embrace all things Italian (right down to a tacky Italian accent), Paul Dooley gives the film’s most memorable performance as Dave’s exasperated father. His character undergoes a quiet transformation from a cynical, weary, and worried fellow into a cagey optimist. Dooley was overlooked come Oscar time, though Barbara Barrie was nominated for her memorably wistful turn as Dave’s mother. Breaking Away has a gentle soul, the central characters have dreams, but they wonder if those dreams are attainable. Dave’s enthusiastic pursuit of his dream gives all the others hope, and it is the hinge upon which the crowd-rousing bicycle-racing finale turns. Bike racing is the film’s metaphor for escape: to break away from the pack in a race is equivalent to breaking away from one’s familial and cultural history. The film pivots on the question of whether, and to what extent, this kind of breaking away is either necessary or desirable. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Breaking Away won one Oscar, for Steve Tesich’s Best Original Screenplay.

Date Showing: Monday 24 August, 7pm

Venue: The Little Reliance Cinema, The Reliance, North Street, Leeds