SHARE
Beauty and the bike . . . The Big Bike Film Night will feature short films from the Canadian Rockies to Central Otago. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A big idea for an even bigger bike.

The town of Taupo is not just home to a large lake, it also has a giant bike that stands 3m tall and weighs 300kg.

The sculpture was created by Marcel Zwezerijnen in 2012, and has attracted every selfie taker in a 40km radius.

But in 2014, the beloved sculpture attracted the eyes of vandals, who did $15,000 worth of damage.

When word of the broken bike spread around the city, Taupo native and avid mountain biker Brett Cotter wanted to do something to help.

“I thought ‘let’s do something good’,” Mr Cotter said.

And thus the Big Bike Film Night was born, making one of his dreams come true.

It was a dream that was first seeded during a bikepacking trip through the Canadian Rockies in the 1990s, when a young Cotter stumbled across the Banff Mountain Film Festival, inspiring him to one day create his own mountain bike film festival.

Mr Cotter used his skills as an event manager, reaching out to film-makers across the world in search of inspirational bike-related short films.

The evening raised $2500 to help fix the bike, but then people started asking him when he would do the next one.

The festival was now in its seventh year, and Mr Cotter had been able to transition from running the festival on the side to doing it fulltime.

“Sometimes you have to create what you want to be a part of.

“It’s certainly taken me for a wild ride.”

But it was not just a job, it was a passion, he said.

And it was a way to build community around something he loved: cycling.

“There have been two constants in my life: cycling and a twin brother.

“I love the freedom of the cycle, whether it’s on the side of a hill or mountain, or going on beaches, or wherever.”

But the festival, coming to the Oamaru Opera House next week, was not just about bikes, nor was it just for cyclists.

As the film festival’s curator and self-described “film pedlar”, Mr Cotter selected films that held universal themes of overcoming challenges, community building, pushing boundaries, and hope.

“I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take the role of curator seriously.”

The hardest part was not finding the short films, rather choosing films that had educational value, originality, were entertaining and, above all, got people out riding, he said.

He wanted people to walk away from the film night feeling uplifted and inspired to try new things.

“The role of the curator is to find films that make people fizz.”

But the heroes of the film night were the film-makers and those who pushed the boundaries by doing adventurous things, he said.

It was a real privilege to share their stories on the big screen – somewhere short films were not often seen despite deserving the recognition.

This year’s festival would include films that covered international and national trails and tales, such as the challenges faced by a small bike club in a low socio-economic area of London determined to become the best club in the United Kingdom, the construction of Central Otago’s Lake Dunstan trail that opened earlier this month and the journey of a rider who contended with blindness while competing in a bike race in the Arctic.

The Big Bike Film Night wheels in to the Oamaru Opera House on May 25 at 7pm.