If one were to wander into Roland Tec’s We Pedal Uphill: Stories from the States completely cold, without the aid of advance reviews or, say, an explanatory press kit, one might find oneself struggling to make valid connections between the thirteen short films that comprise its running time. For it’s hard to imagine that for the uninitiated, Tec’s film, upon first glance, would seem like anything other than a random sampling of what we might be forced to call “post-9/11 behavior.” As enacted by the many characters in Tec’s anthology, which from its very title announces itself as a strictly American project, this behavior might be noble, very bad, or callously indifferent, and often relates to Big Social Issues. Variously, we have voting fraud, army recruitment propaganda, right-wing demonization of gays, bottom-line spending on prisons, the twisting and repackaging of liberal U.S. history, the environment, governmental mistreatment of Muslim American citizens, racial discord, class division, etc. How can all this comfortably be dealt with in one film? It can’t, so only vague outlines will do.
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