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Afghan Cycles is a feature documentary about a new generation of Afghan women pushing gender and cultural barriers by riding bikes.
Afghan Cycles is a feature documentary about a new generation of Afghan women pushing gender and cultural barriers by riding bikes.
589 backers pledged $52,300 to help bring this project to life.

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Afghan Cycles: A feature documentary about a new generation of young Afghan women challenging gender and cultural barriers using the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom and social change. Photo: Afghan Cycles/Jenny Nichols
Afghan Cycles: A feature documentary about a new generation of young Afghan women challenging gender and cultural barriers using the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom and social change. Photo: Afghan Cycles/Jenny Nichols

THE FILM

In the beginning of 2013, we traveled to Afghanistan to film a short documentary the National Women's Cycling team. To fund this production, we ran a Kickstarter campaign. Shortly after we began interacting with these women and learning more about them, we realized that this wasn't just a short documentary to profile the National Team. To do this story justice, it would have to become a feature length film, focused not just on the National Team, but on the brave female cyclists all over Afghanistan who are pushing gender and cultural barriers using the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom of mobility, independence, and social change. From a rural team in Bamiyan to a cycling club riding the busy streets of Kabul, these women are ushering in a new era for a country that is awakening to global influence - risking their honor and their lives for the joy and liberation of riding a bicycle. This is the story of Afghan Cycles.

THE WOMEN OF AFGHAN CYCLES

The women we met in Kabul and Bamiyan have such layered personal stories that we wanted to delve deeper into what's driving them as individuals and as teammates. 

Tahira is one of our characters. She is 14 years old and lives in Bamiyan. She is one of the youngest girls on the team, but is by far one of the fastest. In fact, while we were filming, we started calling her “tisthaone” which in Dari means “the fast one.” 

The older girls on the team have paved the way for cycling in their province, so much so that during Tahira’s interview this fall, she barely even touched on her fears as a female cyclist. Instead, she talked about all of the things she wanted to accomplish in her life - from winning a gold medal to being an Afghan Diplomat in China. Tahira’s parents have sent her to live with her brothers in Bamiyan City where she receives a better education and more opportunity than the rural village she was born in. Her brothers help her with her studies and bought her her very own bike because they want her to be able to get around as easily as boys do. 

Tahira, a girl with a mission
Tahira, a girl with a mission

This girl has dreams and ambition, as do all of the girls riding bikes, despite the threats they receive and the rocks that are thrown. They are the reason why we believe so strongly in this film, and want to share their strength and courage with you. 

WHY A SECOND ROUND OF FUNDING?

There is a big difference between a short film a feature length documentary. As the story has developed on the ground, we have followed along, profiling teammates from three different cycling teams throughout the country. We are very thankful to our sponsors and supporters who have gotten us this far. 

This film carries a universal message. Knowing the many purposes that a bicycle can serve, this film will inspire women around the world to ride. The bicycle is a multipurpose tool, both in developing and developed countries, highlighting the importance of gender equality. In giving women autonomy, and their own means of transportation, a bicycle can provide a woman access to education, healthcare and work opportunities, all of which positively benefit both the women, but also their families and communities. 

And because we believe in the film's universal message, we want you to be involved in helping us to finish this project. We are currently in the final stages of production, and we need your help to finish this feature length documentary. 

Young woman exuding confidence on Darulaman road in Kabul, Afghanistan. She's out for a morning ride with friends. Photo: Afghan Cycles/Jenny Nichols
Young woman exuding confidence on Darulaman road in Kabul, Afghanistan. She's out for a morning ride with friends. Photo: Afghan Cycles/Jenny Nichols

WHAT YOU'RE SUPPORTING

By backing this project, you are supporting the final production trip to Afghanistan this October and the post-production costs that are needed to finish Afghan Cycles. In anticipation of the film's premiere in Spring 2016, we are building out a robust outreach campaign. You aren't just supporting a film, you are taking part in a global movement. 

Director Sarah Menzies filming the National Team. Photo by Claudia Lopez
Director Sarah Menzies filming the National Team. Photo by Claudia Lopez

REWARDS

We have a variety of rewards at different levels, including thank you postcards, behind the scene photos, and a lot of excellent cycling gear made possible by our friends at Skratch Labs, Liv and Osprey Packs

Some of the rewards include:

  • A thank you postcard, with an original Afghan Cycles production print. Frame it on your wall for inspiration!
  • Hydration packs from Osprey Packs. Never ride without hydration again. 
  • An original Afghan Cycles production print by photographer Claudia Lopez.
  • Authentic Afghan kites, handmade in Kabul.
  • Ride with the Afghan cyclists in California or Colorado
  • Handmade, limited edition earrings made from upcycled bike tubes
  • Limited edition Combat Apathy doppio by Innate Gear
  • And more!
These limited edition earrings made from upcycled bike tires and the Combat Apathy doppios will go fast, and they could be yours at the $50 level!
These limited edition earrings made from upcycled bike tires and the Combat Apathy doppios will go fast, and they could be yours at the $50 level!
Any of these could be yours! Check out our rewards
Any of these could be yours! Check out our rewards
These acrylic and charcoal hand painted kites by Chicago based artist, Wesley Kimler, are one of the many incredible rewards we're so lucky to be able to offer to our backers
These acrylic and charcoal hand painted kites by Chicago based artist, Wesley Kimler, are one of the many incredible rewards we're so lucky to be able to offer to our backers
31” x 34” Afghan Kite Painting by Chicago-based artist, Wesley Kimler
31” x 34” Afghan Kite Painting by Chicago-based artist, Wesley Kimler
       
Wesley Kimler, Molten Afghan Kite, 33" x 45'" $3000
Wesley Kimler, Molten Afghan Kite, 33" x 45'" $3000
Wesley Kimler, Black Blizzard, Afghan Kite painting 72"x72"
Wesley Kimler, Black Blizzard, Afghan Kite painting 72"x72"
 
Wesley Kimler, Afghan Kite Original painting, 66"x60"
Wesley Kimler, Afghan Kite Original painting, 66"x60"

THE TEAM


     

This is a LET MEDIA production, directed by filmmaker Sarah Menzies. Menzies has been a freelance videographer and filmmaker since 2010 and founded the production company Let Media in 2012. Her short documentary films, including Catch It (Director/Producer, 2014) and The Way Home: Returning to Our National Parks (Director of Photography, 2012), have screened at festivals such as Mountainfilm in Telluride, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Port Townsend Film Festival, Wild and Scenic Film Festival and many others. Menzies ventures into wild spaces to bring back amazing stories of strength, courage, and passion that highlight our common humanity. Seeking personal character-driven stories, she highlights the good that exists in the world through her films, showing audiences that everyone is capable of creating positive change.

Executive Producer: Caryn Capotosto has produced five feature documentaries including Best of Enemies (Co-Producer), a 2015 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee which will be released theatrically in July 2015 by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media. In 2014 she was the Associate Producer on the Academy Award-winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom (2014), and has independently produced the feature documentaries Chasing Beauty (2013) and Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL (2014). Current projects include a feature documentary about the acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble for Participant Media.

Producer: Shannon Galpin is a humanitarian focused on women’s rights and gender violence and is the founder of Mountain2Mountain. She is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, and received an Honorary Achievement Diploma from the IOC for the work she does to support women's cycling in Afghanistan. Her memoir Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan was published in 2014.

Editor: Nora Gully started out at the legendary documentary studio Kartemquin Films, where she worked on The Interrupters and about a dozen other films, eventually becoming an Associate. In recognition of her potential, Nora was chosen to be one of eight Assistant Editor Fellows at the 2014 Sundance Documentary Film Labs, where she was mentored by some of the best in the business. This past year, she was editing the forthcoming Kartemquin documentary The Prosecutors and served as post production supervisor for Almost There. Before that, she was additional editor for the Oscar-nominated Finding Vivian Maier.

Director of Photography: Jenny Nichols, has 8 years of experience in visual communication and filmmaking. Her latest film, Pride of Namibia, Produced for World Wildlife Fund, received the following awards, Best Short Film, Wild & Scenic Film Festival (2015), Grand Prize, Adventure Travel Trade Assn. Film Festival (2014) Silver, World Responsible Tourism Awards (2014) She has worked globally telling character driven stories to engage audiences and bring timely cultural and environmental issues to life.

Impact Producer: Anna Brones, is a freelance journalist, author and producer who has previously worked in Afghanistan. Her previous production work includes the feature documentary Mending the Line (2014), winner of Audience Choice at 5 Point Film Festival and People’s Choice Award at Banff Mountain Film Festival, and Les Voyageurs Sans Trace (2015). She is the author of two books and currently working on her third. Her work has been featured in publications like The Guardian, BBC, and The New York Times.

Nazifa is in school to become a midwife and hopes to someday use the bicycle to travel to her patients faster. Photo by Claudia Lopez
Nazifa is in school to become a midwife and hopes to someday use the bicycle to travel to her patients faster. Photo by Claudia Lopez

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AfghanCycles
Twitter: @AfghanCycles
Instagram: @AfghanCycles
Website: www.afghancycles.com

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT AFGHAN CYCLES.

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge we face in the production of this film is safety and security in Afghanistan. In the event we are not able to travel there this Fall, then the money we raise here will be used to get us there as soon as we deem it safe to travel and finish production. In the past three years our team has been on the ground in Afghanistan 2 times and we have hired local crews at times when we are unable to be there, so we are very experienced in security fluctuations and have a network of people on the ground to make it as safe as possible for our team to travel and film. Your support goes directly into the production (including security) in Afghanistan, and will be applied when we are able to get there safely. In the event that we are not able to film there at all, then the money will go straight into post-production and finish the film with the footage we have already shot.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    -A thank you postcard with an original Afghan Cycles production print.
    -Your name the film credits

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    Stickers!
    -Die cut sticker with our logo that'll fit perfectly on the frame of your bike
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    -1 Afghan Cycles koozie (keep your drink cool and show your support for Afghan Cycles!)
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    Digital Package:
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    Earrings Package:
    -handmade, limited edition earrings made from upcycled bike tubes
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    Doppio Package:
    -Take your espresso to go with this limited edition Combat Apathy doppio made by Innate Gear.
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    Original Afghan Cycles Print+ Digital Package:
    -An original 8x10 photo from behind the scenes on Afghan Cycles production in Afghanistan
    shot by photographer Claudia Lopez
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Afghan Scarf + Digital Package:
    -An authentic Afghan scarf, brought back from Kabul
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Producer Books + Digital Package:
    -1 signed copy of Mountain to Mountain by Afghan Cycles producer Shannon Galpin
    -1 signed copy of The Culinary Cyclist, by Afghan Cycles producer Anna Brones
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Shredly Women's Multi-Sport Shorts Package
    -Inspired by mountain biking but designed for more, get a pair of Shredly's Multi-Sport Shorts (sorry fella's, these are women's shorts)
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere;
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    Afghan Kite + Digital Package:
    -1 original handmade Afghan kite from Kabul
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Skratch Labs + Digital Package:
    -A box full of goodies from Skratch Labs including drops, hydration, water bottles, hat
    -1 signed copy of The Feedzone Cookbook by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Digital + Hydration Package
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere;
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    -1 Osprey Packs hydration pack
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    Afghan Lapis Package:
    - A piece of authentic blue lapis lazuli from Afghanistan
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere;
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    Strength in Numbers Cycling Kit + Digital Package:
    -Your choice of a mens or women’s Strength in Numbers cycling kit, the same cycling kit worn by the Afghan Women's National Cycling team.
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    DesignHype Urban Cuff City Cuff Package - Gold
    -1 gold city metro inspired cuff
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    DesignHype Urban Cuff City Cuff Package - Silver
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    Get a LIV Bike!
    -Women's, small Rove Disc Lite bike from our sponsor Liv
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    Go on a Ride with the Afghan Cyclists!
    - You and a friend can join the Afghan cyclists on a ride over the summer of 2016! Travel and accommodation not included, rides will be in Colorado and California and organized by one of our nonprofit partners, Mountain2Mountain
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Wesley Kimler Original Painting Package
    -Abstract Kite Painting (Yellow, Black and Red)
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Wesley Kimler Original Painting Package
    - Abstract Kite (Blue), Acrylic and charcoal on paper, 50” x 40”
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
    -1 Digital download of film upon release
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    Wesley Kimler Original Art Piece Package
    - Molten Afghan Kite 33” x 45”
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Wesley Kimler Original Painting Package
    -Abstract Kite (Green), Acrylic and charcoal on paper, 60” x 44”
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
    -1 Digital download of film upon release
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    Wesley Kimler Original Art Piece Package
    - "Nomads" 51x76” ultra flat black, charcoal on paper
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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    Wesley Kimler Original Art Piece Package
    - Afghan Kite 66” x 60” (Orange, Green, Black)
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    Wesley Kimler Original Art Piece Package
    - Afghan Kite 72” x 72” (Black Blizzard)
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    Afghan Cycles Premiere Package:
    -1 festival pass for premiere festival to attend premiere with the filmmakers
    -2 nights accommodations at premiere festival (flights not included)
    -1 Strength in Numbers Cycling Kit
    -1 Digital link to watch Afghan Cycles simultaneously with its film festival premiere
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Funding period

- (30 days)