The official trailer for "Ciclo," a feature-length film that will show at this year's festival.

Later this month, the local Filmed by Bike festival will return to Portland for its 12th year, bringing independent bike-themed movies from around the world to the Clinton Street Theater for one raucous, celebratory weekend. We caught up with festival director Ayleen Crotty to find out what's in store for this year's pedal-happy festivalgoers.

How did Filmed by Bike originally come about?
I started Filmed by Bike in 2003 as a way to raise a small amount of funding for a new event, the Multnomah County Bike Fair—a one-day bike festival. At the time, there were two known sources for bike movies in Portland: A local bike culture enthusiast named Reverend Phil, who was making scrapped-together bike-themed movies with friends as actors; and one old VHS tape that the arts organization Orlo had shown at their Video Slam event series. I figured I could somehow scrounge up one or two more films from somewhere on the bike-loving West Coast and put together a movie night. I hoped for 40 attendees and was amazed when more than 60 people showed up to a standing-room-only event. I knew I was onto something and quickly began to grow video night into a full-on festival.

What's been the most memorable film from the last 11 years?
There are so many! Filmed by Bike specializes in shorts, meaning short movies under 10 minutes, so each year I find a few that I absolutely fall in love with. All-time favorites of mine, and many of our fans, include "Ski Boys," a "forget the TV, go outside and ride your bike" film about embracing life and exploring the world around you; and "Tag," a thrilling race between a roller blader and a cyclist on the streets of London.

What kind of range of films are we likely to see this year?
This year has been a real game changer. We are accepting longer films and seeing a huge collection of films from around the world. One of our stand-out pieces is "Ciclo," a feature-length film (91 min) about the first known Mexican men to ride their bikes across the continent from Mexico City to Toronto in 1956. The journey changed the family tree of the two brothers, and the daughter of one of them recreates the journey with the now-elderly men as the traverse the route in a car, with some biking along the way. The brothers find that much of what they once saw is no longer in existence; the world has changed, time has passed. The men try to keep their spirits up for the camera as they encounter broken-down towns and shoulder the emotionality of family struggles. It is an absolutely heartwarming tale, and quite a wonderful opportunity for Portlanders to journey along with this Mexican family as they explore how life, and their family tree, changed because of the bold journey. 

We are also showing a few comedies, a dark thriller, animated shorts and documentaries. Each program has a different theme, from Bike Love to Heavy Pedal to Travel Shorts. 

Do most films come from the Northwest?
Filmed by Bike is a festival by Portland for Portland. But this year we're showcasing 45 films from 14 countries. In the early days, we showed at least 60% Portland movies, with nearly all of them coming from the US. This year marks a huge shift. 65% of our accepted submissions are from outside the US, including Latvia, Slovenia, Israel, Greece, Australia and Italy. Only 11% of our films this year are from Portland. Why is that? We can't say for sure, but I would speculate that many of the Portland filmmakers who have submitted in the past chose to take a break this year. We can't expect them to submit every year—but hopefully this year will inspire more people to make a film for next year.

Tell us a bit about what we can expect at the festival.
Filmed by Bike is an amazing experience. It's an inspiring, creative event where people can get a taste of bike culture and the joy that comes from riding a bike. You don't need to know a single thing about bikes to appreciate what flashes across the screen though all 45 films. Each program has a different feel and attracts a slightly different crowd. There are opportunities for people to celebrate, dance in the street and get rowdy in the theater, but there are also tender, quiet moments in the theater that are extremely powerful.

Check out the full Filmed by Bike festival schedule and make your plans now. Festival passes are $27, and individual tickets range from $8–10, but we're giving away two passes for free.

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