There is something of a 90s vibe at London Sundance, and it continues with the beautiful Skate Kitchen. Set in New York amidst skyscrapers and sunsets, this coming-of-age tale would feel like a documentary but for the charm it exudes. Director Crystal Moselle’s feature follows Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) as she navigates skating subculture in Manhattan. Scraping knees and elbows along the way, the protagonist slowly finds her place in a group of young female skaters that she encounters on Instagram.
Normally, this description might foretell typically destructive depictions of large groups of teenage women in cinema. But this film strikes a different tone. This is a supportive, diverse and accepting group, freed from the gossiping and backstabbing with which they are usually besmirched. They take their own tacks on femininity and sisterhood, swerving taboos and kickflipping over the voices of boys who tell them they’re not good enough. Putting this across relies on an exceptional ensemble performance, and the movie’s female cast succeed fiercely.
Apart from writing and crafting this excellent set of characters, there is a lot to be said of Moselle’s directing. The audience never tires of the skating motifs, of the freedom and ease that can but inspire envy in a group of static spectators. The filmmaker polishes and recreates the on-the-go shots that the skaters themselves are attempting to capture. Equally, intimate moments are almost secretive, balancing the loudness of wheels on the concrete with still, fly-on-the-wall scenes.
Moselle spent time with skater girls in the period leading up to production and was clearly swept away by their charisma. This feature overflows with a nostalgia for youth, for freedom and discovery. As the credits roll, you may not yearn to jump on a skateboard or relive your first big crush. But these memories – or expectations – will appear in technicolour on your way out of the cinema.
Skate Kitchen is released nationwide on 28th September 2018.
Watch the trailer for Skate Kitchen here: