If you were one of the 603 people who donated to help Baltimore filmmaker Lotfy Nathan take his film to this year’s South by Southwest film festival, you can pat yourself on the back: thanks to a well-regarded SXSW debut, the documentary about Baltimore’s dirt bike culture has been picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories, a distribution company started by a Beastie Boy and known for films like We Need to Talk About Kevin, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and Meek’s Cutoff. Now the dirt bike debate can really get going.
Every time something gets written about Nathan’s film, commenters spring up to decry the film for lauding Baltimore’s dirt bike culture. These commenters presumably haven’t seen the unreleased film; they’re just mad at the suggestion that anyone might look at these bikers with something like compassion or interest. Yes, dirt bikes have caused car accidents, woken people up in the middle of the night, and even injured children. But Nathan’s film seems to intimate that these groups might have the potential to save lives as well.
But that’s as much as I’m willing to say about a movie that I haven’t seen yet, either. Thanks to this distribution deal, though, hopefully I’ll get a chance to soon. There are no plans yet for a release date; the film heads next to film festivals in Toronto and North Carolina.