What happens when you combine York Cycle Campaign’s message, a community hall and the beauty of moving pictures? That’s what the Campaign’s ever-industrious Events working group wanted to find out. So they contacted the wonderful people at St Clements Hall, who were more than supportive, even letting us choose the cinematic backdrop – the Oscar-nominated Belleville Rendez-vous.
Like films, the evening could be said to have three acts. The first was the introductions, from St Clements Hall, Peter Thompson, and Robyn Jankel, YCC’s Communications Officer. Robyn explained to the packed hall that Belleville Rendez-vous was a fantastic film with hidden depths: that while it appeared to be about the Tour de France and its cyclists, in actual fact it was a film about the day-to-day preoccupations of love and loyalty between a woman and her grandson. Robyn thought that such parallels applied to cycling too: that for many people, the word ‘cycling’ evoked images of lycra-clad men whizzing past in a blur, but the real story of cycling for most people is simply using it as means to get around. That, indeed, was the cycling that York Cycle Campaign sought to make safer, more convenient and accessible for “absolutely everyone.”
With that, the film began. The ever-roving eye of Canal+’s copyright department mean that I must be sparse and cryptic with what I say next, but I can divulge that the film had moments of humour, beauty, cycling, and a barking dog (you didn’t hear that from me). Half-way through, there was an interval, allowing for those gathered to get refreshments, enjoy a toilet break, but most urgently, flock to the Campaign’s table to the side of the room (kindly set up by Campaign member Jamie Wood beforehand) to share their experiences of cycling with the Campaign members there. Conversations were had, and by their end Robyn had persuaded another five people to join the Campaign. My record was rather less impressive – a single new member, but one who was well-known to the Campaign and who seemed intent on joining up from the beginning, but I’ll count it as one for me anyway.
Then the lights dimmed, the voices hushed, and the film resumed. Again, I must be discreet in what I write next, but I can say that there were good people, bad people, and some fireworks. I fear I’ve said too much. When the credits rolled, the crowd applauded and sprung to their feet, immediately clearing away the tables and chairs and making for the door. Afterwards the organiser came up to us saying she thought the event went well and that it’d be great to do another collaboration soon. You mean another evening of fun, film, and campaign promotion? Sounds great to us!