Review: 'With My Own Two Wheels' 

****
click to enlarge Mirriam, one of several activists featured in 'With My Own Two Wheels.'
  • Mirriam, one of several activists featured in 'With My Own Two Wheels.'

With My Own Two Wheels is a rewarding documentary that deals with people around the world trying to better themselves and their communities, and various groups that provide them with bicycle-related support. Filmmakers Jacob Seigel-Boettner and Isaac Seigel-Boettner have crafted a movie that gives a glimpse of what community looks like on a global scale. Painful truths are presented, but the general tone is upbeat because the featured individuals simply won't stop moving forward. The 44-minute film screens at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Toby as part of the Indianapolis Museum of Art's We Are City film series. Following the screening, local individuals involved in bicycle-related projects will appear, including Matthew Jose of Big City Farms, Haiti advocate Amy King and Doug Friedenson of Freewheelin' Bikes. Interested parties may then move to the Nourish Cafe to network and visit other bike groups.

In Chapola, Zambia, Fred is a farmer and a volunteer caregiver tending to HIV/AIDS patients in rural areas. A bicycle provided by World Bicycle Relief allows him to do his job much more efficiently and deal with more patients. Mirriam is a young physically disabled woman in Ghana, where people with physical challenges are treated poorly by many. After training provided by Bikes Not Bombs, she becomes a bicycle mechanic and a hell of a role model.

A segment in India featuring a young woman named Bharti contains some hard-to-hear facts. Daughters are routinely treated as undesirable beings, receiving less schooling than males because they are likely to marry young and leave their families. "Why water a plant that's going to grow in a neighbor's garden?" is a well-known quote in the country. Bharti's determination prevails, aided by a bike to go to high school provided by Ashta No Kia, a women's empowerment group.

The film also showcases efforts in Guatemala to improve the horrible air pollution by making bike-powered machines to do various labor-intensive tasks, increasing productivity for farmers and reducing the use of machines that add to the pollution. The devices are ingenious and the project inspiring. Finally, we visit Santa Barbara, California, where former gang member Sharkey volunteers in a community-run bike shop that caters to the needs of cyclists, particularly those who use bikes by necessity.

With My Own Two Wheels is well-edited, beautifully shot and features a winning musical score. I wanted to learn more about both the individuals and the programs, but the production stays on point, delivering its message of hope again and again. This is the kind of film that triggers discussions and, ideally, new projects.

See: 'With My Own Two Wheels' trailer

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