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Fitness meets art in Chile: pedal powered films

Fitness meets art in Chile: pedal powered films

Posted by José Peralta on November 11, 2014

From Thursday to Saturday, curious moviegoers swapped elegant dress for sporting attire — and comfy cinema seats for sweaty saddles — to attend Chile’s first series of pedal-powered film nights. There was little respite as spectators peddled their socks off; the film depended on it.

Dubbed “Efecto Pedal” (“The Pedal Effect”), the event sought to raise awareness of renewable energy and active lifestyles while promoting Chilean film. A total of 22 bicycles were rigged up to the projector in Santiago’s Quinta Normal park.

Each bike was connected to a system that stored and transformed the public’s spinning into usable energy. For each screening, at least 12 cyclists were required to feed the power-hungry projection equipment.

“What’s really fascinating about this project is that you are engaging in something that consumes a lot of energy but you are doing it with energy that you produced yourself,” Alexandra Galvis, director of Market Chile — the host of the event — told The Santiago Times.

Participants took it in turns to peddle, with fresh legs waiting on the sidelines ready to replace aching muscles. Despite the bikes’ attention-grabbing luminous wheels, the star of the show was Chilean film. Galvis explained that “Efecto Pedal,” which was free to the public, sought to “democratize” Chilean film — often seen as an “intellectual” pursuit in the country.

“For us it’s crucial that the event does not discriminate, so we’re trying to come up with activities that appeal to a broad audience,” he said.

In the spirit of social inclusion, the event set up arm cranks for those unable to pedal with their feet.

During the last two decades, Chilean film has grown considerably. Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup plunged the local film industry into a dormant state, with only two films released during the 17-year-long dictatorship. The return to democracy in 1990 saw a boom in film production, slowly earning Chilean movies a place in some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

Despite its increased global recognition, Chilean film is often perceived as overly intellectual and only catering to niche audiences, thus presenting filmmakers with an uphill battle in connecting with local audiences. More recent Chilean blockbuster successes from producers such as Nicolás López have nonetheless challenged this criticism, as they experiment with romantic comedies and horror, genres that were previously untouched by the local film industry.

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