By Laura Stovel
For Sean Bozkewycz, biking isn’t just about getting around. The passionate environmentalist is generating electricity while he cycles around town. His bike runs an alternator that is plugged into a deep cycle battery and a few hours of cycling generates enough power to run a stereo – even a film.
Film is the way Bozkewycz is reaching out to the public. He has been organizing guerrilla cinema events – free, outdoor, bicycle-powered film screenings – since he returned from his native Australia in January. In an advertising poster, he calls these screenings “a portable cinema experience delivering knowledge and inspiration in the great outdoors.”
Usually the screenings are held at the ball field at Centennial Park. Thursday, March 21, was an exception. Twenty-five people watched the Greenpeace film Petropolis in the comfort of the Community Centre – a screening still operated by Bozkewycz’s bicycle-powered batteries. The film used aerial photography to show the magnitude of environmental destruction from Alberta’s tar sands.
These film screenings give Bozkewycz a way to address some of the problems he sees in the world. “I can show that it’s possible to do things yourself. This could be the bare bones of a system you could have in your house,” he said.
Right now we are “completely reliant on centralized distribution systems for electricity and water. That makes us incredibly vulnerable.” he said. His guerrilla film is designed to demonstrate an alternative to our current reliance on fossil fuels. Bozkewycz also carried a solar panel with him that could be hooked up to
How did this project in Revelstoke start? For Bozkewycz, “the set-up came first. As a rafting guide in the summers, he often lived in refurbished buses and enjoyed living in them. He bought a bus from a rafting company which he lives in during the summer. The dual cycle batteries that he needed for power also powered a stereo – Bozkewycz likes his music – and he also had a bike trailer “so the set up was sort of all there,” he said.
Last year Bozkewycz began experimenting with the bike-powered generator, run with the help of an alternator from an abandoned car. He took his set-up to the farmer’s market where it ran a TV for Claude Awad’s Alternative Goods and Services Exchange booth.
Guerrilla Cinema is not new. Bicycle or solar-powered outdoor film events, usually with a social or environmental message, are being organized elsewhere. Bozkewycz was already involved as a volunteer with Montreal-based Cinema Politica, a non-profit organization that acquires the rights to independent political films for largely free public screenings, so showing these films was a logical step.
What is next for Bozkewycz? At the end of April, he and his girlfriend Kelsey are heading to Montana to volunteer in the construction of an Earthship a building constructed out of discarded tires filled with earth.
Bozkewycz is planning a few more film screenings before he leaves, all held at the Centennial Ball Field. The next one will be on March 31 at 7:30. It may be chilly but winter is a great time to show outdoor films, he said, because it is dark early.