Transport is a city’s living, beating soul. Even Sydney’s transport is not without its hidden charms, as lovingly depicted in ‘A way we go’, a documentary feature by Jacqui Hicks. With an unconventional format emphasising the wisdom and emotions of everyday people, it captures the audience’s attention with a bubbling flow of ideas and images and a vivid dash of humour.
In 2013 Jacqui travelled to ten cities, including Sydney, to film what goes on as people travel from A to B and delve deep into the footpaths, highways, tramways and bikeways of these ten very different hubs. Four years later, ‘A way we go’ will be screening at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick on Sunday 10th December. Meet the characters who love the way they move (or don’t move) around the city, and connect the cities with their people and their very essence.
Jacqui became interested in transport when she noticed the extent to which her daily train commute to uni—twice as long as a car trip – enhanced her wellbeing. She was meeting new friends, having a delightful walk to and from the station, and getting to relax or knit or read for a considerable chunk of the day. Lovely! Since then, she has studied and worked in the world of transport and become an advocate for cycling after learning to ride a bike on the cobblestoned streets of Paris – no mean feat.
‘A way to go’ shows urban transport is much more than time and money. Transport can play a role in helping create more fun, creative, healthy and caring cities and individuals! On her travels Jacqui was struck by how insightful and inspirational people were in discussing their travel time. But the most surprising part was how much people enjoyed talking about transport and their daily commute.
The kindness of strangers provided her with most of her accommodation, translations and local knowledge in all the cities she visited. In Hanoi, she was lucky enough to stay with three sisters living on the outskirts of Hanoi, who took her on their motor bikes, and even let her drive one. She was made to feel like another sister. She left slightly broken hearted but with a farewell that included karaoke, Vietnamese cuisine and a ‘ride through’ ice cream shop that made her departure bittersweet. In Pune she was lucky enough to stay in the leafy campus of the Film and Television Institute of India where she learnt about the composition of shots and how competitive film students are at ping pong. Bicycles were borrowed or bought in every city so she could experience the freedom of two wheels. Cycling in Ankara was so bad she thought about staying to write a cycling strategy for the city.
Jacqui travelled light, and incorporated some ridiculously long train journeys including 40 hours to go from Guilin to Qingdao, in China, which tested her resilience. She also managed to include some cycle touring while travelling between Berlin and Madrid. She picked a very wet September for this leg of the journey but she could enjoy dramatic skies over striking landscapes, and with her rusty French she was helped along the way.
During her trip she had some wild adventures including riding a Boda Boda (a motor bike taxi) through the unfinished back roads of Nairobi. ‘To be honest’, Jacqui said, ‘I had to check the footage twice after I thought we had ridden past a corpse’. The final stretch into the centre of the city was a zig zag through a colourful maze of Matatus (buses). In Casablanca she was intrigued by the system of shared taxis, ‘Les grand taxis’: old white Mercedes you hail with hand signals to indicate where you want to go. The hand signals worked to Jacqui’s advantage because they were easier than trying to pronounce the names of her destination.
Jacqui made many friends along the way but it was in Madrid where her host made the biggest impact on her life. After showing her the city and taking her hiking in the Picos de Europa she decided to share his morning commute one day. Waking up before sunrise with him and seeing his world may have helped spark a special connection. A couple of weeks later he was quitting his job and booking a one way flight to Australia. They are now married with one child and another on the way, and Jacqui finished editing her film with a baby on her lap. That baby just got his first bike.
The film will be showing at 6pm on 10th December at the Ritz Cinema Randwick. For more information please visit the website www.a-way-we-go.net or email Jacqui firstname.lastname@example.org.