Man Zou All the Way to the Top

Local filmmaker Jason Reid and his team (above) have already gained significant success with their film Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team (winner of last year's Webby award for Best Sports Film). They distributed the film for free on the Internet as part of an ongoing guerilla info war against the corruption that lost Seattle its basketball team (the guys still attend some basketball games across the country decked out in their Sonics gear and brandishing signs). The film was named "The Most Persuasive Grassroots Flick of 2009" by Sports Illustrated.

Now the team is rolling out, Man Zou, a documentary which follows Reid and three other men as they bicycled across China, from Beijing to Shanghai in 2008.

"Man zou" is a phrase in Mandarin that translates to "walk slow," meaning, live life at a pace that allows you to actually see the world around you as you move through it. On the epic, 1,000-mile bike ride, the filmmakers — who aren't exactly pro cyclists — struggle to keep the philosophy in mind as they face terrifying traffic, intense pollution, equipment failure and challenging nutritional choices.

But the reward is high: they capture a portrait of the country's landscape and citizens that spurs important dialogue about America's relationship with China. Namely, about fear, stereotypes and misinformation that keep the two cultures so disconnected.

Also, the cinematography is pretty delectable and, typical of a Reid production, the editing and music score betray expert eyes and ears working behind the scenes.


There are two opportunities to see Man Zou coming up. Check it out at the Bicycle Film Festival on October 10. Or on December 2, when the film will air on Northwest PBS affiliate KCTS 9 as part of the Reel NW series, and for a week following, be available on-demand. Visit the film Web site for more information.

Watch the trailer: