Skateboard Goes To Oscar 2019!

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First of all, big round applause for the Black Panther achievement as the first superhero movie ever nominated for Best Picture in this 91st year Academy Awards. There are many surprises on this year’s Oscar, including the movie that we are going to talk about now.

Minding the Gap, the hard-hitting 2018 skate documentary movie directed by Bing Liu and Diane Quon, joins the competition with the other four films, which includes Nat Geo’s death-defying Free Solo directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill; the intimate community portrait Hale Country This Morning, This Evening by RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim; rare Islamic State insight Of Fathers and Sons by Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert; and biographical ode to Supreme Court Justice and pop-culture icon directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG.

The movie was filmed over six years where Minding the Gap follows a group of friends as they deal with family trauma, adolescence and adulthood, mental health, and identity. And you know what? This 2018 skate documentary has a one-in-five chance of winning the goddamn Oscar and lets us show you why.

The opening frame of Minding the Gap shows us a young man scaling the side of a building. As he opens a locked gate to let his friends in, we learn they are trespassing and they all have skateboards. In the beginning, you will think that this is just an ordinary skateboard movie. Started with a lighthearted romp through the childhood years on how the young man introduced with the skateboard world, the film will show you a deep and probing documentary about what’s behind it. What seems like it could slip into the glorification of skateboarding and male childhood rebellion is revealed to be an exposé on violence, male identity, and generational trauma in America. Instead of employing easy platitudes around the cinematic potential of skateboarding, Bing represents childhood through tender scenes, like one of Keire hiding behind a tree while others light fireworks, the violence and noise causing him to seek refuge from an activity that, if handled wrong, could clearly hurt him. He’s not ready to enter that potentially painful world. The sentiment echoes that which is felt in the movie’s opening:  quiet devastation.

Filmed over the course of six years, there are no unintentional images or words on the screen, Bing conscientiously choosing small moments to pinpoint major issues in the subject’s lives that revolve around isolation and identity. For example, a scene in which Keire observes how his blackness is treated by others, in real time, as a group of his white buddies laughs at a YouTube video featuring the N-word. This scene is then juxtaposed with Kiere’s father, who we learn to be a complicated figure in Kiere’s life, stating that, “When you’re black, you get to prove people wrong every day.” In Bing’s world, good and bad, safety and danger, hope and emptiness, pain and growth are all interconnected; there are no convenient categories to delineate where these things stand. Rather, both subject and audience must learn to recognize these things in the chaos of their own world. These seemingly simple moments give us behavioral clues about not only the relationships between this group of friends but also their existence as individuals.

Minding the Gap also offers one of the best on-screen depictions of skateboarding in the attempts to explain skateboarding and prefers it when it’s just allowed to exist. In this way, skateboarding in the film acts as a mirror for the characters, reflecting back the person they want to see in themselves. When, towards the end of the film, Keire explains how mad skateboarding makes him sometimes but that he can’t stay mad at it, Bing prompts further explanation, saying, “But it hurts you.” Keire’s responds, “So did my dad. But I love him to death,” an insight emblematic of the powerful, deeply personal, hopeful, and profoundly heartbreaking treatise on masculinity, race, and family in America today.

Check out its trailer: Minding the Gap - A Hulu Original Documentary

Based on an article by Adam Abada, “Unforgettable Skate Doc ‘Minding the Gap’ Reveals Painful Truths”

Photos by @monsterchildren

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