Its co-filmmaker calls “Women of Dirt,” which premieres a week from tomorrow, an “experiential lifestyle film” packed with “levity” and “fun.” But it’s not just a film “for and about women,” whether on bikes or off. Instead, says Mark Brent, previewers have been unanimous that the movie has “huge crossover appeal” for any audience — meaning the riding, the relationships and the story take it beyond the usual backflips-and-beer ethos of conventional freeride DVDs.
“Women bring a different aspect to the sport,” Brent said. Their riding has a subtlety and grace to it that “We can all identify with better,” Brent said. “It’s super flowy and style-y.”
We were instantly drawn to Brent’s and co-filmmaker Miles Sullivan’s project by the presence of Seattle native Jill Kintner, whose 2009 season ranked among the best of any mountain biker, male or female. Kintner is featured riding last summer’s Whistler Crankworx (where she won two titles and runner-upped a third), the nationals (she took first) and — get this — the Woodland Park jumps, within shouting distance of our Phinney Ridge home. Modest and understated, Kintner hasn’t gotten her due. Perhaps the movie will remedy that.
Unfortunately, Jill (and most of the pro cycling world) is in Australia, where it’s summertime, training for the 2010 season — which means she can’t be at Northwest Film Forum for the movie’s worldwide premiere Feb. 5 (tickets here). But Katrina Strand, Stephanie Nychka, Cierra Smith, Tammy Donahugh and Leana Gerrard will be in Seattle (be sure to read Martha Hucker’s interview of Leana) for the premiere and Lisa Myklak, Emily Johnston, and Tammy Donahugh in Santa Cruz for the California premiere Feb. 28. The Cali hosts, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, are making the showing part of a gala two-day festival, including an open ride at Soquel Demo Forest and jump jam sponsored by Epicenter Cycling in Aptos.
At the Seattle premiere Diamondback Bicycles will give away a 2010 Mission 1. And 10 percent of net proceeds from Seattle showings will go to benefit the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, which is doing superlative work to support freeride parks in the region.
Brent says that, after two decades of mostly male mtb films, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for a film featuring women riders. He got the idea for “Women of Dirt” in part from talking with Joy Mutoli, who noticed after race weekends that the guy footage on PinkBike would get a few dozen views while the fem footage shot the needle up to 500 or more.
The “Women of Dirt” teaser has gotten more than 50,000 views. And the film’s Facebook fan page has nearly 1,500 members.
“People have told us, ‘Wow, we didn’t know this story existed’,” Brent said. “They’re blown away by the beauty and courage and comradery of the riders.”
In addition to NWFF’s run and the Santa Cruz premiere, “Women of Dirt” will be hosted by Mudd Bunnies in Vancouver, B.C. And Brent is working with groups and clubs in a variety of locales, including Bellingham, to get the film before local audiences.
“We’re encouraging anyone with a group of any size to host a showing,” he said. (It’s called marketing in the age of the Internet.)
DVDs will go on sale officially the day of the premiere but may be available online earlier, Brent said. Fans also will be able to buy the film directly from the producers at the BonesOverMetal web site. And discs are sure to make their way into select bike shops.
“I hope this opens up the opportunity for a full-length feature documentary,” Brent said. Perhaps something on the women’s World Cup circuit — something along the lines of Clay Porter’s annual series (“F1rst,” “Between the Tape,” “Tipping Point”). In any case, “Women of Dirt” is long overdue as a tribute to women opening the sport and zeitgeist of freeriding to a whole new generation of riders. For an example, be sure to check out Walter Yi’s video link below of Kat Sweet out at Duthie — one of the places where Evergreen is making such a difference.