Following a new generation of young Afghan women cyclists, the documentary Afghan Cycles uses the bicycle to tell a story of women’s rights – human rights – and the struggles faced by Afghan women on a daily basis, from discrimination to abuse, to the oppressive silencing of their voices in all aspects of contemporary society. These women ride despite cultural barriers, despite infrastructure, and despite death threats, embracing the power and freedom that comes with the sport. Afghan Cycles will have its East Coast premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival, screening on June 7 and 8, 2018.
Focusing on local impact, Afghan Cycles is partnering with local organizations Women for Afghan Women, Get Women Cycling, Bicycle Habitat, BikeStyle and Girls on Bikes. On Thursday, June 7, Get Women Cycling will be hosting a group ride to the screening, and following the screening on Friday June 8, the partner organizations will join Afghan Cycles Director Sarah Menzies for a panel discussion following the film.
“The women in this film represent the positive impact that sports can have in oppressive societies. Cycling has empowered these women to get around more freely and independently when they would otherwise have to rely on a man. This is not unique to Afghanistan. In fact, in many countries women do not have the freedom of mobility and are dependent on men to travel safely,” says Menzies. “This brave group of Afghan women are challenging that type of traditional thinking that is quite prevalent throughout the world, and by telling their story, we hope that it inspires more women to get on bicycles internationally.”
Fatima Rahmati, Women for Afghan Women
Fatima was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and at the age of four, she and her family fled as refugees from Afghanistan to Australia. Fatima traces back her experiences of being raised in the projects of Australia and her father’s legacy of educator and social activism as the path which paved the way to philanthropy. Moving to New York City 13 years ago, Fatima found herself naturally gravitating towards education, social justice, and philanthropy. When deciding on how to best serve her father’s legacy and her own passions, Fatima decided a school bearing his name in the country he loved would be fitting – a project she is currently working on. She joined Women for Afghan Women in 2015 as the Program Assistant for a brief period, she then took on a leading role in WAW’s Junior Board. Starting January 2018 she took on the role of Coalition and Outreach Coordinator at WAW. Fatima is fluent in Dari and English
Lydia Moore, Bicycle Habitat/BikeStyle
Lydia works as a bicycle mechanic in brooklyn, with a belief in the need to redistribute resources, knowledge and access to bicycles. In the white cis male dominated bike industry she has created a workshop and ride series called BikStyle. Sharing the resources and space of Bicycle Habitat, BikeStyle centers queer and trans cyclist of color. Lydia is passionate about the bicycle as a tool for change. She is a founding board member of the Bike Worker Advocacy Project. A worker Center with a mission to organize the work force of bike messengers and bike shop workers in NYC.
Kala La Fortune, Girls on Bikes
Kala grew up and currently resides in Newark, NJ. A graduate of Rutger’s University Newark with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Kala founded Girls On Bikes as a Senior in college while pursuing a career in Fashion. Her initial goal was to get more girls in her community to cycle as a way to get connected, have fun, and exercise. Now the organization has worked with over 150 students in the Newark Public Schools teaching them how to build bicycles from scratch and discussing the negative stigmas they may encounter while cycling in the urban community.
Thursday June 7, 2018 @ 7:30 pm, Wythe Hotel
Friday June 8, 2018 @ 6:30pm, Windmill Studios NYC, panel discussion to follow