In 2020, the motorcycle community didn’t really get together. In the US, Daytona Bike Week ended early, and almost every two-wheeled rally and meet-up since then was canceled (with Sturgis being the notable exemption).
But, as always, things evolve and change. Overland Expo went virtual, and new, online-only events like the Armchair Adventure Festival came along. And now, this weekend, we get the South Jersey Moto Film Festival, with all its films screening online. It’s one of the first events hosted by the Rev Sisters.
A Group With A Goal
Like the name implies, the Rev Sisters an all-female team, but not a large-scale organization like The Litas. Right now, three female riders make up the Rev Sisters: Liza Miller, Shana Sanderson and Michelle Lamphere.
If you’ve heard of Re-Cycle Garage (one of the first moto co-op garages in the US) or the Motorcycles & Misfits podcast, you might already be familiar with Miller–she was a founder of both. Lamphere has her own corner of the moto world staked out, as an author of ADV books as well as a lifetime around the Sturgis scene (she currently owns/operates the Chalet Motel in South Dakota). Sanderson met Miller and Lamphere while all three were involved with the Women Riders World Relay. All three riders realized they had unique skillsets that meshed together, which led to the founding of the Rev Sisters–a group with a goal.
Lamphere says they founded the Rev Sisters to host moto events of all kinds, with an emphasis on supporting female riders. For starters, they planned a series of motorcycle film festivals for 2020, but then COVID-19 happened. The Rev Sisters’ first event, the Santa Cruz Moto Film Festival, had to be canceled.
Time for Plan B. The Sisters pivoted, and figured out how to get their second event, the Black Hills Moto Film Festival, online in August. Now, from December 4-13, we get the Rev Sisters’ third event: The South Jersey Moto Film Festival.
Free for All
So what’s the South Jersey festival all about?
This year’s festival has a 15-film lineup between the Ultra-Short (less than 10 minutes), Short (10-30 minutes) and Feature (more than 30 minutes) categories. Viewers should be able to watch the films from anywhere in the world (the organizers haven’t geo-restricted any of them), and there’s no charge to watch them for the festival’s opening weekend.
“We researched various platforms and found one that was as low-cost and workable as we could, and taught ourselves how to create an online film festival,” Lamphere says. “We really wanted to have a ‘free’ option for attendees as our way of supporting motorcycle fans and, thanks to a few really kind sponsors, have been able to do that.”
Having said that, there’s a VIP Extended Viewing pass available, and no doubt the organizers would appreciate any money brought in. The Rev Sisters had to learn how to create a film festival from scratch, and even if they’re happy to put the effort in with no payment, there are still plenty of other expenses involved with an event like this. If you can send some money their way, they’ll put it to good use (you can buy a shirt, too).
What sort of films can you expect? This isn’t an ADV-only festival, although there are adventure films included. Lamphere says that “Each festival we hosted this year included one or more films showing some of the local area around where the festival was to be held.” So, in this case, expect some filmwork showing the riding scene on the Atlantic seaboard.
Otherwise, Lamphere says the organizers “showcased moto culture and films that provided insight into a variety of different riding styles.” In other words, expect a little bit of everything. Shuffling through the titles, you can see films about custom bikes, racing, whatever two-wheeled fun you’re into.
Lamphere says they recruited entrants to the festival through a variety of different methods. They found some films through Internet searches; open invitations on social media attracted other entries, and in some cases, the Rev Sisters personally knew films and filmmakers, and asked them to enter the festival.
Building a Future
Although COVID-19 means the the South Jersey Moto Film Festival isn’t exactly running according to the original plan, it’s still going ahead. Lamphere says she and her fellow organizers hope to continue on after this year, running all three of their planned film festivals (Santa Cruz, Black Hills, South Jersey) yearly, with both in-person and online components. This year, the organizers were happy to provide free in-home entertainment for motorcyclists in a year when it was badly needed, Lamphere says, but they’d really like to do the festivals in-person.
“Our original idea was to have live events with vendors in attendance and possibly a weekend of activities, but obviously this year we had to change that plan,” she says. “We hope to revisit those things in future years.”
Down the road, they’d like to have things like interviews with filmmakers and their subjects, panels and round-table discussions, the usual film festival scene. And the Rev Sisters are certainly open to new ideas, and exploring areas of opportunity, even as they figure out how to start a new business venture during strange times.
Film Festival Details
For more information, and a full lineup of this year’s films, head over to the South Jersey Moto Film Festival’s website. Along with winners of best film in the Ultra Short, Short and Feature categories, there’s also an award for Most Inspirational film (voted by a panel of judges) and Viewers’ Choice (voted on by the viewers, obviously).
The focus might be on the films, but the South Jersey Motorcycle Film Festival has also partnered with the All Kids Bike charity this year. As per the website:
“AKB is on a mission to teach every child in America to ride a bike in Kindergarten PE class. We believe that the skills kids learn when riding a bicycle – confidence, coordination, balance, physical strength and health – form the best foundation for life and translate into motorcycle interest and skills later in life.
We are hosting a fundraiser raffle to help support All Kids Bike and thanks to our generous sponsors have some fantastic prizes! Go HERE to help us support this worthy cause. You will receive one entry in our drawing for every $5 you contribute. Donations will be accepted through January 6, 2021 and prizes will be drawn January 9, 2021.”
More details on the prizes at the website.
Photos: Michelle Lamphere