Cross-country trek worth documenting

A 20-minute documentary has prompted the trip of a lifetime for two Canadian women.
Bridget Farr, 27, of Ottawa and Marcilyn Cianfarani, 24, of Toronto met through a newspaper advertisement before embarking on a bike trip from Vancouver to Newfoundland.
Now, having just passed through Rainy River District, the duo already has racked up hours of footage at the halfway mark of their trek.
The trip began when Farr, a film studies graduate, decided to cross Canada to film an experimental documentary, which is being funded by a Canada Council for Arts grant and the Ontario Arts Council.
“It’s called ‘Area Code’ and it’s comparing country and urban life,” she explained. “It’s just sort of the way people conduct their day-to-day lives, how people interact and their interests.
“It’s something I always wanted to do and also since I’m shooting the film, I thought it would make us more approachable,” she added. “And people always say you see things more travelling this way.”
Farr placed an ad for a travelling companion and Cianfarani, a bike courier in Toronto, was the first of seven to reply.
“I finished school and went travelling, and still didn’t know what I wanted to do,” noted Cianfarani, who took biology and neural science in university. “So when I saw an ad in the local paper in Ottawa, I answered it.
“We get along really well,” she added.
The pair have encountered rough terrain, some bad drivers, torrential rains, and strong winds that threatened to blow them off the road. But they continue to be encouraged by the overwhelming support of strangers, the sights, and their documentary goal.
“We’re really quite absorbed in this and not lonely, not homesick, and I really wouldn’t want to do anything else right now,” said Cianfarani.
While the documentary will feature an equal combination of urban and country life interspersed in clips, sound bites, and interviews, the two women have little to say about the cities compared to the small towns and villages along their route.
“They said the prairie would be very boring, which it isn’t,” noted Farr. “There are so many sights and small communities to see.”
“We came into this little town, Eutonia in Saskatchewan, and the weather was really bad and within minutes of going to this café a woman invited us in,” recalled Cianfarani.
“We got some really great interviews with people, we just felt really at home,” added Farr. “We’d never seen anything like it in our lives.”
The two took a short break at the home of Manitou Rapids resident Jennifer Mercer to rest and tune up their bikes. They also had the chance to take in their first traditional pow-wow at the reserve, adding to their documentary before they hit the road again.
While the excitement of the trip has taken on a life of its own, Farr continues to shoot film on her refurbished 1959 Bolex camera while Cianfarani navigates their way through Canada’s towns and cities from their May 3 departure in Vancouver to their August destination–St. John’s, Nfld.
“We’re worried when it’s over we’re going to have separation anxiety,” smiled Farr.