In 2015, Ricky Kelly came to Myrtle Beach — a city he has loved for years — on a mission to discover the stories behind two motorcycle rallies that draw hundreds of thousands to one of South Carolina’s top tourism destinations.
Kelly set out to show the story of these two rallies that occur in the same area at about the same time of year. He wrote, directed and co-produced the film “Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches,” which sold out its world premier Friday at Cucalorus, the film festival in Wilmington, and has an encore showing Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at Cape Fear Community College Union Station, 411 North Front Street, Wilmington.
“I tried to show the characters as real people and not just someone we see riding down the street on a bike,” Kelly said. “Some just don’t understand the concept that the majority are here to ride their bike and have a good time, and enjoy this beautiful city. Where else can you ride around without a helmet with the scenic views, the hotels are reasonable compared to others cities on the East Coast, it’s a no-brainer for us.”
The Harley Davidson Bike Rally draws a predominantly white crowd to locations on the South Strand, mostly Murrells Inlet, where body paint, pudding wrestling and live bands fill a full week in May. The Atlantic Beach Bikefest, otherwise known as Black Bike Week, draws predominantly Black bikers to North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach, where many are directed to travel in a 23-mile loop. Black Bike Week is filled with brightly decorated cars, trucks and motorcycles — many accented with neon lights — jubilant hip-hop music, plenty of impromptu dancing and laughter, and, in some instances, crime.
High profile crime. Shootings and fights that have led police from throughout the state to report to Myrtle Beach for Memorial Day weekend, and has led local authorities to help set up barricades, license-plate readers, and create a feeling of inequality between the two fests.
Kelly said he wanted to show both sides of the rallies — the actual happenings at the rallies and the portrayal of what happens there. He said he was pleased with the final product.
“It’s almost like catching lightning in a bottle is like trying to catch racism on camera,” Kelly said. “I think we did a great job with the film. I think it tells both sides of the story. It was my intention going in not to just beam it at Myrtle Beach, because I love Myrtle Beach. I just wish Myrtle Beach loved me. I think that’s how a lot of people feel.”
The film has commentary from participants in both off the rallies, sound bytes from former Gov. Nikki Haley, who tired to put an end to Bikefest, and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, who Kelly personally said he wished would see the film.
“I would love for John Rhodes to go,” Kelly said. “I thank John Rhodes for giving me the opportunity to sit down with him on camera. I would love for the powers that be to come down and see this film, and realize that the people who come down there are hard-working people who just want to come down and have a vacation, and it’s that small minority that’s messing it up for everyone. But when you put 350,000 people in any city, if it was a police convention, crime would escalate. That’s just how it is.”
Rhodes could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Kelly said he is working on releasing the film online around the Thanksgiving holiday, and hopes to show it at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival in the spring.
He said the mission of the movie, which runs 75 minutes, was also “to bring the spotlight to Atlantic Beach and show the history of Atlantic Beach.”
“I just want to see change,” Kelly said.
If You Go
What | Encore showing of “Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches”
When | 10:45 a.m. Saturday
Where | Cape Fear Community College Union Station, 411 North Front Street, Wilmington
Tickets | $10 and can be purchased at the box office of online at http://tinyurl.com/BlackBeachWhiteBeach.
The Sun News get reaction from those who saw the world premier at Cucalorus.