Park City Moto Union will roll with its first motorcycle film festival
Two-day event benefits YouTheatre
The Park City Moto Union is a local riding group on a mission to educate the general public about motorcycles.
“We want to break through the stigma of motorcycle riding and show that it’s really about a bigger and broader community,” Union member Michael Bhanos said. “Moto Union is a riding enthusiast group that welcomes everyone who loves bikes, and serves as a place for people who move here or pass through here to have other people to ride with.”
The Park City Moto Union also acts as a platform for films and storytellers and will present the first Park City Moto Union Film Festival on June 16 and 17.
Bhanos, who is the executive director of the festival, said the event’s mission is multi-faceted.
“I sit on the board of directors for the Egyptian Theatre and we were thinking about ways to introduce the theater to a new set of eyes and new demographic of people,” he said.
Bhanos noticed younger motorcycle enthusiasts seem to be very in tune with art, design and community. He wanted to capitalize on that.
He approached Egyptian Theatre manger Randy Barton and submitted a proposal for a film festival that would benefit the Egyptian Theatre’s YouTheatre program.
YouTheatre offers theater, acting, costumes, technical and design workshops and classes to students.
“I think YouTheatre is important because it involves helping children to become super comfortable in public speaking and other skill sets,” Bhanos said. “Those skills are used no matter if they stay in theater or not. They can use them throughout their lives. So, I thought we could drive charity to this through the festival.”
The backbone of the Moto Union Festival is the International Motorcycle Film Festival that is based out of Brooklyn, which hosts a big event every September.
“I contacted them and said we’d like to screen some of their best-of films from the 2016 catalog in Park City in June,” Bhanos said. “They liked the idea.”
International Motorcycle Film Festival President Elisa Seeger and Executive Director John Hensley will attend the festival and introduce some of the films, Bhanos said.
One of the films is called “Out of Nothing,” which was awarded Best of Festival at the 2015 Motorcycle Film Festival.
The film was directed by Chad DeRosa and produced by Ryan Stiles and Andrew Lahmann. The cast features Jason Omer, Bill Woods and Mark and Carl Bjorklund.
“A portion of the film was shot on the Bonneville Salt Flats,” Bhanos said. “So it will be cool to have a film that has a local connection.”
Bhanos found additional films through other partners, including Epic Nomad Productions, to screen.
The first day of the festival will run from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at the Egyptian Theatre.
“We will screen four films,” Bhanos said. “They will all be short films that range between 20 to 30 minutes.”
Leading up to the screenings, Intermountain Harley Davidson and Harrison Eurosports will host rides from their Salt Lake City locations to the Egyptian Theatre.
“Harley Davidson also has a retail store right next to the Egyptian, so we’ll do a pre-film reception,” Bhanos said. “We’ll have preferred sponsor parking in front of the Egyptian Theatre.”
Friday evening will also feature opportunity drawings that include riding gear and gift certificates from local businesses.
“We will also have an after party at The Cabin,” Bhanos said. “Anyone with a ticket to the Friday screenings will get in for free, and there will be a suggested donation of $5 for those who don’t.”
The festival will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, at Skullcandy. 6301 Landmark Drive at Kimball Junction.
“I contacted Skullcandy and they were stoked about the concept and offered their space,” Bhanos said. “It has an awesome lounge vibe and it has a place that is perfect for a black-box theater.”
Saturday’s event will feature six films.
“Four of those will be in the black box, and two will be on constant communal display where we will have bikes on display, a live DJ and demonstrations by local bike builders,” Bhanos said. “We will have food vendors as well.”
There will also be two Saturday group rides, one at 10 a.m. and one at noon.”
Bhanos hopes people who attend the Moto Union Film Festival will enjoy the experience.
“I dearly love Sundance Film Festival,” he said. “When I go see those films, I come out feeling inspired and educated.I want people to have that same type of experience with our film festival. I want to create a low-barrier of entry and understanding of the motorcycle-riding community.
“We want people who are curious about motorcycling and we want people who have ridden forever to come and celebrate films and riding.”
The goal is to host a festival each year and bring in more events throughout the year.
“We want to bring people together who have stories and people who can film these stories,” Bhanos said.
Bhanos’ attraction to motorcycles spans different levels.
“First of all, there is a thrill and it’s adventurous,” he said. “On the other hand, a motorcycle is a powerful instrument that warrants respect and warrants training, and there is responsibility that goes with it.”
Bhanos said riders create a sense of community.
“Not only do you make connections with people, these people are philanthropic,” he said. “You can always find a ride or rally for charity wherever you go.”
The Park City Moto Union Film Festival will he held Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17. For information and schedule, visit http://www.parkcitymotounion.com.
“Park City Follies” ticket sales will help buy a new expansion to the Egyptian Theatre that will house YouTheatre and serve as a black box.