The Freedom Machine available to book

Scottish film curator Jo Reid’s new archive film, The Freedom Machine, celebrates the bicycle and its role in the emancipation of women – and is now available for exhibitors to book.

The Freedom Machine celebrates both the trailblazing cyclists who changed the world and the ordinary everyday women whose lives were changed by cycling throughout the last 100 years.

Using archival footage from the UK-wide archives, including the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive, and featuring sequences from Life of the Bicycle, it premiered at Glasgow Film Festival 2023.

The film is accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack from Glasgow-based sound designer Catherine Hawthorne.

Stories within the film include: Jean Cameron’s crusade to add trousers to the female post officer’s uniform; sixteen year old cyclist Louise Garbett’s ambition to become world champion and Aimee Pfanner’s daring ride across the Thames in a hydrocycle. They show how women have approached cycling in a variety of ways: as a political statement, a practical necessity, and for pleasure.

Make it a season or event

The film would make a great accompaniment to a cycling season or event in celebration of the first ever UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow (3 – 13 August). During 11 days of competition, over 8,000 elite and amateur cyclists will bring their bikes to Scotland, from over 120 countries.

We have compiled a list of suggested cycling titles to programme here.

Suggestions to enhance your screening:

  • Invite a guest speaker(s) from your area for a Q&A i.e. a local cycling group, a sportsperson or a feminist academic/historian
  • Curate a series of cycling films from the list above – or any of your own!
  • Invite an archive filmmaker/historian to introduce the film
  • Host a screening for young people with a post-film discussion or activity, such as an activity based on the Moving Image Archive’s collection of films and footage (this may qualify for our new Adventures in Cinema Fund, find more information here)


  • 40 mins + 10 mins filmed intro
  • Marketing pack and posters available
  • Director Jo Reid available for a limited number of Q&A’s
  • Available from 17 July

Complete the booking form

The Freedom Machine is supported by Glasgow Life UCI Cycling World Championships, Film Hub Scotland and Glasgow Film Festival.