Documentary ‘Bicycle Dreams’ to screen at Maumee Indoor TheatreWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Lovers of cinema and cycling alike can enjoy a showing of award-winning documentary “Bicycle Dreams” at the Maumee Indoor Theatre on March 8. The documentary, produced and directed by Stephen Auerbach, covers the Race Across America, a 3,000-mile cycling race for both professionals and amateurs.
Auerbach was drawn to the race after hearing about it. “As a filmmaker and storyteller, you’re always looking for a good story,” he said. “The more I looked at these athletes, I thought of them as astronauts.”
He followed the racers in a minivan and much of his crew embedded themselves in the race to tell that story. Most of his crew worked for food and a plane ticket home, Auerbach said. The staff and their 18 cameras collected 700 hours worth of footage, which was edited down to about 100 minutes.
To mimic some of the cyclists’ journeys, Auerbach found himself staying up 36 hours at a time. “You learn there’s more fuel in your tank than you ever imagined,” he said. “I learned if I had something to do I could stay up 40 hours.”
The director/producer didn’t think many people would see the finished product, but after an employee of Steven Spielberg said, “‘The whole world needs to see this film,’ I thought, ‘Maybe she’s onto something.”
“Once you let [a film] off of the floor, it takes on its own life like a child; you can’t control it,” he said. “Bicycle Dreams” won awards at the Fallbrook, Calif., and Breckenridge, Colo. film festivals as well as the Krasnogorski International Festival of Sports Films in Moscow.
“It speaks to this original gut instinct that there was a great story here,” Auerbach said of the film’s success.
The New York native learned he loved stories as a child when he would create tales with his toy soldiers. This evolved into creating elaborate athletic games in his driveway before falling in love with movies as a teen.
“I was just kinda hooked and never thought I was gonna be a banker at that point,” he chuckled.
Auerbach broke into the business as a comedy writer before moving on to nonfiction. He had his first brush with Race for America when he worked on an NBC documentary also called “Race for America.”
The TV documentary was a ratings boon and the network asked Auerbach to create a documentary on the race the next year. However, he had a few conditions this time — truthful editing and no narration.
“They all looked at me like I was crazy,” he recalled. “I wanted people to go on the race, not to watch it. I knew if I pulled the narrator out that was possible.”
The Maumee showing is part of a nearly 60-stop tour. The viewing is sponsored by Maumee Valley Wheelmen, a bicycle racing club, as a benefit for Toledo Bikes, a collective seeking to improve access to safe cycling. “Bicycle Dreams” is at 7 p.m. March 8 at 601 Conant St., Maumee. Tickets are $11 in advance, $15 at the door and $5 with a valid college ID. To purchase, visit imathlete.com/events/bicycledreams.