Minding the Gap

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Film

A hit at DOXA earlier this year, Minding the Gap has been described as "the Boyhood of skate videos". You might also call it "Hoop Dreams on wheels" (that film’s co-director, Steve James, is a producer here). For years, Bing Liu filmed his friends Zack and Keire on their boards, performing stunts. sometimes falling flat on their faces, on the streets and parking lots of impoverished Rust Belt town Rockford, Illinois. Then something strange happened: they grew up. Troubled sons became troubled fathers, uncles, and, in Bing Liu’s case, a troubled filmmaker, increasingly concerned about how cycles of abuse repeat even in the people you think you know best. With its up close and personal take on the pressures of breaking out from poverty, violence and despair, Minding the Gap is one of the key American movies of the year.

"Minding the Gap starts out as one story, suggesting one set of character arcs, and then flows in unexpected directions and underlines new sets of themes, without ever feeling haphazard or ill-considered.

Liu had been filming his friends and their skateboarding antics for years, capturing every spectacular stunt, every scary face-plant, and hours and hours of boys-will-be-boys banter and bickering. The friends are at a transitional point, especially fun-loving Zack, who finds himself facing adulthood in unexpected ways when his girlfriend Nina gets pregnant. Suddenly, Zack is forced to go from boy to man without any positive role models in a city with few job prospects and a rapidly dwindling population […] The words "This device cures heartbreak" are scrawled on Keire’s skateboard, but the certainty that a recreational activity will be able to hold these not-quite-men together and protect them becomes increasingly strained as the years pass." Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

"A tour de force of documentary filmmaking, Minding the Gap is a lively, often beautifully shot film about a pit of hopelessness–from dead-end jobs to drunken arguments to bad decisions. This is modern day John Cassavetes with tattoos and punk music." John Fink, The Film Stage

"As a work of nonfiction, it’s stunning; as a piece of storytelling, it’s heartbreaking." Vox