Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival: A reel good time

Like motorcycles? Like movies? Then if you live in the 6ix, you’re in luck — the Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival is back for its second year, running Sept. 27-30 at the Revue Cinema.

This year, there were 55 films submitted, and the festival whittled that list down to 23 films showing over the weekend (full lineup listed below), including four features and 19 shorts. Festival attendees will see a few shorts along with the features when they visit, making sure they’re exposed to a variety of storytelling.

Got Sidecar? If you’re an IOMTT fan, this film is for you.

Festival director Caius Tenche says this means all types of motorcycle films will get a chance to be promoted at the festival, not just productions with big money behind them, and that, he thinks, will inspire more people to tell their own moto-stories.

“Independent or DIY filmmakers don’t have the budget that big production companies do, so we’re stoked that we can help get their art in front of as many people as possible,” says Tenche. “These movies entertain us and they inspire us. And so we want to support the filmmakers and fuel the creation of more of these kind of movies that we’re so passionate about.”

After watching all the films himself, Tenche says he’s excited to share them now and see people’s reactions. This year, he says there’s something for everyone.

Adventure riders can watch Unfamiliar Road about a 37,000 km journey from Australia to London. Racers can watch 3 Wheeling, the story of a fierce battle between two sidecar teams during the Isle of Man TT, with full-speed footage. DIY custom fans should enjoy Dirtbag II: The Return of the Rattler, the story of an inexperienced team building a bike in a month for the Dirtbag Challenge, all under a $1,000 budget.

Step-through enthusiasts will only find one scooter-centric film at this year’s rally, The Sobbing Scooterists, but Tenche says “This film is for everyone, not just for scooter riders. I don’t want to say too much about it, other than you have to see this little gem.” As for vintage bike enthusiasts, there’s  Black Lightning, the Rollie Free Story, which tells the story of exactly how Rollie Free ended up being photographed going down the Bonneville Salt Flats on his Vincent wearing nothing but a pair of swimming shorts and a smile.

Rally for Rangers takes viewers on an adventure ride with a purpose.

And of course, there are some films that don’t necessarily fit into any category, but are “great, well-crafted stories, visual poetry or just plain fun to watch,” says Tenche.

What you won’t see is a big-budget Hollywood action flick with a few motorcycle scenes thrown in (like, say, a Mission:Impossible film). Tenche says motorcycle culture has to have a central theme in the film; festival organizers are looking for films that “expose us to something new, that teach and open our eyes and minds about some aspect of motorcycle or motorcycle culture that we didn’t know much about.” Sure, they’re looking at things like originality and creativity, direction, production value, cinematography, pacing, writing, and sound – they have to whittle the list of entries down somehow – but ultimately, festival staff want to share good stories, and that’s what they’re looking for.

As for Canadian films, there are two homegrown entries this year, including No Highway, which details a solitary journey through northern Quebec and the Maritimes, and  FASTER, about Alicia Elfving, aka writer/rider MotoLady.

CanCon is an area where Tenche is hoping to grow the festival. It presents an award for Best Canadian Film, and he’d like to see more than two films competing. One of the great things about the festival, he says, is the ability to watch films that depict moto-life in far away countries like Indonesia or South Africa. He’d like to see that same sort of work depict our own country’s two-wheeled life. Next year…

Where to start?
Want to submit your own film? It’s too late for this year’s event, but Tenche would love to see more CanCon for next year. You don’t need any fancy cameras; he says you can shoot your film on a DSLR or even a smartphone, as long as you’ve got a story to back it up.
“It’s great to have top-notch equipment, and it certainly makes some things easier, but the most important thing is story. Story trumps everything else,” he says. “You can have the best equipment and no story, and it looks interesting for a bit, but it quickly wears if you don’t have a really good story to hold up the movie.
“The only advice I can give to filmmakers or somebody that wants to submit a film is to find a good angle, a good story, and go do it, just tell it, and submit it to the film festival.”
If you’re looking for examples of what he’s talking about, Tenche recommends Trailmaster, a story about a father-son team that manages many miles of trails in Oregon, completely filmed on GoPro cameras. Another example: Giovanni Burlando’s Vision, an Italian-language movie about a 75-year-old hillclimb racer’s tales of his motorcycles and adventures.

If you’re interested in this year’s festival and want to see what it’s all about, you’re in luck. TMFF staff are putting on a Ride In Theatre event at Pfaff Harley-Davidson tomorrow night (August 28). They’re showing some of the films that screened last year, but also one of this year’s selection, so you’ll get a sneak peek on September’s lineup. According to the festival’s website, you should “Bring a chair, a blanket, your best bud and join us under the stars on August 28 at 8:15 PM. Admission is FREE but please help us plan by registering here.”

2018 Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival lineup

This year, the festival is screening:
3 Wheeling, Documentary/Feature, producer Chris Beauman: “The spectacular sport of sidecar racing is explored as the top riders take on the world’s most dangerous race: the Isle of Man TT. From the paddocks to parc fermé and the pit lane, 3 Wheeling goes behind the scenes with all the highs, lows, thrills and disappointments.”
Black Lightning: The Rollie Free Story, Documentary/Short, director Zach Siglow: “It is arguably one of the most intriguing images in motorcycling: the 1948 black and white photograph of a man wearing only a bathing suit and shoes, alone and at one with a speeding motorcycle against a glaring backdrop. This documentary explores the story of Rollie Free and his famous Bonneville land speed record.” 
Boutonniere, Narrative/Short, director Paolo Asuncion: “It’s been said that some motorcycles have souls, but how does a bike acquire its spirit? The Handsome Asians MC give us this example of what it is that connects the biker to the bike.”
Critchlow, Narrative/Short, directors Lauren Schneider and Rocco DeLuca: “Inspired by their friend’s photography, hand-built motorcycles and philosophy on life, this short film is a labour of love that captures Troy Critchlow and his young family at a very special time in their lives.”
Dirtbag II: The Return of the Rattler, Documentary/Feature, director Paolo Asuncion: “Of course you can build a chopper in one month and for under a thousand dollars, if you’re a mechanic or a fabricator. But what if you have no experience at all? After being spectators for years, the filmmakers set out to prove this statement once and for all.”
Disadvises, Narrative/Short, directors Rafael Bedoni and Gabriel Davini: “All motorcyclists receive advice from friends and family about riding. It’s an internal conflict that rings true for many and often results in torn feelings and guilt.
FASTER, Documentary/Short, director Cam Elkins: “Alicia Mariah Elfving is a motorcycle rider, writer, and photographer. The motorcycle has changed her life. Her motto, is reflected in her ferocious approach to life,”Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”
The Frozen Few, Narrative/Short, director Stephen Marino: “On a cold day in March, a group of men known as the Crazy Eights crossed their American borders towards the Great White North. It was in Sault Ste. Marie where their icy, snow-covered tires finally came to a halt.”
I Hate Ladies, Documentary/Short, directors Sofia Wikelid, Vanja Lamm and Agnes Wentzel Blank: “Out of an estimated number of 200 000 ‘boda boda’ drivers in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala there is only one woman: Naume Awero. Naume’s attitude towards women has been affected by her background and daily life in a male-dominated business.
Motorcycle Boy – The Legendary Tigerman, Documentary & Music Video/Short, directors James Coton and Masato Riesser: “Part documentary with an experimental feel, and part music video, Motorcycle Boy is a music video by Portuguese artist Paulo Furtado aka The Legendary Tigerman. The video focuses on Japanese biker crew The Specter Gang and the underground Bosozuku style and culture.”
No Highway, Documentary/Short, director Virgil Héroux Laferté: “At the dawn of his fiftieth birthday, Marc Provencher begins his journey that will take him on 6,500 km of gravel road, through northern Quebec and the maritimes. What follows is a stream of honest self-reflection and discovery.
The One Moto Show 2018 “Official” Film, Narrative/Short, director Matthew Sander: “World renowned, local public-access journalist Burt Furnace takes you on a journey to the 2018 One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon.”
The Race, Narrative/Short, director Lucas Guerineau: “Seven year old Marcos is playing with his dad’s motorcycle in his home garage. The game turns into reality when Marcos starts hearing the voice of a stadium announcer, the cheering of a crowd and the humming of other motorcycle engines.”
Rally for Rangers, Documentary/Short, directorJeff Colhoun: “Every year, a group of riders from around the world band together to deliver new motorcycles to rangers patrolling the Mongolian heartland.” 
The Sobbing Scooterists, Narrative/Short, director Liza Miller. “Be kind and wave to all bikers. You never know how much it can hurt when you don’t.”
Sons of Speed, Documentary/Short, director Jeff Maher: “Sons of Speed follows bike builder Billy Lane on his journey to create a motorcycle race inspired by early 20th-century board-track racing featuring stripped-down bikes with pre-1925 American V-Twin engines.”
South of the Wall, Documentary/Short, director Sinuhe Xavier: “A Mexican takes his two American friends on some off the beaten path roads and shows them a Mexico that’s not found in your typical travel guide.”
Survivor, Documentary/Short, director Cam Elkins: “Survivor, produced for The Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride, is the story of Mark Atkinson and his family and how they were impacted and dealt with Mark’s depression and panic attacks. In addition to that, he was also diagnosed with prostrate cancer.”
Transcend, Documentary/Short, directors Ethan Vara and Brian Walsh: “Visual eye-candy featuring every type of motorcycle racing there is including: motocross, road racing, ice racing, offload, supermoto, freeriding and freestyle.”
The Unfamiliar Road, Documentary/Short, director Daniel Greening: “With limited time and new technology that has never been pushed to the limits of land speed racing, Elliott Andrews and his team attempt to set a land speed record on the salt flats of Lake Gairdner.” 
The Ultimate Ride, Documentary/Feature, directors Edgard Ferreira and Adam Dostalek: “The Unfamiliar Road follows the overland motorcycle journey from Perth, Western Australia to London in the United Kingdom. A trip that covers 37,000 km and 24 countries.”
Vietnam Road Trip, Documentary/Short, director William Shears: “Having never ridden a motorcycle in his life, William decided to rent a bike a ride it down the entirety of Vietnam. In the process he discovers something about himself.”
The World’s Slowest Harley, Documentary/Feature, directors Léo Terreros and Pierre André Lhomme: “Can a post-war WLA Harley-Davidson set a new record on the Bonneville Salt Flats? Pierre André has been riding old military Harley’s since his youth and wanted to find out.” 


  1. Anyone know why for the 1st film listed 3 Wheeling , it doesn’t follow convention and state the Name of the director , Nathan Russell-Raby ? No producers mentioned in any others ?? how very weird ..

Join the conversation!