These coming-of-age skate films are making waves this year

These coming-of-age skate films are making waves this year

Skate or die

Text: Yimin Huang

Editor: Aravin Sandran

An all-girl crew, an unfiltered look behind the lives of mid-America skaters and a 13-year-old skate rat — Skate Kitchen, Minding the Gap and Mid90s are kicking, flipping and grinding their way onto the indie film scene

Skate Kitchen

Directed by: Crystal Moselle 

Cast: The real-life Skate Kitchen crew and Jaden Smith

Storyline: Set in New York City,  this is a tale about Camille, a lonesome bespectacled 18-year-old who joins an all-girl skate crew. The film is a snapshot into their burgeoning multi-racial sisterhood — one minute the girls are grinding on the gritty streets of the city, and the next minute, they are chilling out in a bubblegum-pink bedroom talking about boys and tampons. Shit gets real when Camille gets involved with her crewmate's ex.

Trivia: Jaden Smith was the only poseur on set who required a skating double. 

Minding the Gap

Directed by: Bing Liu 

Cast: Skater dudes Zack Mulligan, Keire Johnson and Bing Liu as well as their loved ones

Storyline: Drawing on more than a decade of footage, this documentary explores the turbulent lives of three multi-ethnic American guys as they bond over skateboarding. Unplanned pregnancy, alcoholism and fractured familial relationships — life seems to beat them down at every turn, and yet, they continue to grind on. This is a skate movie without all that contrived storytelling, try-hard dialogue and hipster aesthetic; instead, it pays attention to the emotional vulnerabilities of these men on their journey of self-discovery.

Trivia: Director Bing Liu also serves as the docufilm’s videographer, co-editor and supporting actor.


Directed by: Jonah Hill

Cast: Breakout star Sunny Suljic and Lucas Hedges

Storyline: A shaggy-haired 13-year-old from a broken home? Check. Skateboarding with a newfound rowdy crew to gain independence and identity? Check. A wicked-sick 90s-inflected soundtrack featuring The Cure and Wu-Tang? Check. An underage, love-making scene? Checkmate.

Trivia: Shot entirely on 16mm film, Mid90s is actor Jonah Hill's directorial debut.