The transformational power of bicycles is the subject of a new film by brothers Jacob & Isaac Seigel-Boettner. “With My Own Two Wheels” takes us on a ride through the developing world to see how these simple mechanical devices are changing peoples’ lives. Though here in the U.S. we take for granted the ease of going from place to place by car, the filmmakers demonstrate that bicycles offer for many living in poverty a way out.
Co-director Jacob Seigel-Boettner said his project was an opportunity to connect with real people around the world with real stories about their bikes.
“We were incredibly lucky to find all of these not only great characters,” he said “but people who were willing to let us follow them around with a camera wherever and however long we wanted to.”
With a recent showing at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride and now in private screening distribution, the 44-minute film depicts the stories of five individuals, each with a different spin on how bikes empower them.
“We started with World Bicycle Relief,” said Jacob Seigel-Boettner . “With work I had done in the bike industry, I knew they were not only the largest but the most sustainable bike development organization in terms of distributing bikes, and training mechanics and making sure that it was done right.”
So the directors built a story around five people for whom bicycles made a big difference. Fred is a caregiver from Zambia who rides from village to village visiting aids patients. Carlos is the inventor of pedal-powered device called the bicimaniquina that offers a small-scale industrial alternative to diesel-fueled machines. Sharkey in Santa Barbara California avoids life in gangs working in a neighborhood bike shop called Bici Centro. In India a young girl named Bharati gets an education thanks to a local program called Ashta No Kai that provides bicycles for her and her friends to ride to school. And Mirriam is a polio-stricken bike mechanic in Ghana.
“I know that her life is changed by it. I know that she now sees herself in the world as an influential person,” said David Branigan of Bikes Not Bombs. “She sees herself as having skills that other people don’t have that are a value to her community and even to the world.”
After a run on the festival circuit the filmmakers plan to provide young people with teaching materials to learn how bicycles can benefit society.
“We believe the bicycle is something that kids cannot only learn from but they all get at that age,” said Seigel-Boettner . “And it’s not a really complicated development intervention that takes a lot of explaining. It’s something that’s very tangible and the film makes sense to them. So we feel through the film we really want kids when they’re getting car keys to really think about the bike in a different way and realize how it can impact their lives and impact their peers around the world.”
For more information visit www.withmyowntwowheels.org.
The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support of sponsor Patagonia
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