Over a decade in the making, filmmaker Bing Liu’s debut feature “Minding the Gap” is one part skate film, one part deeply personal “Boyhood”-esque examination of the changing power of youth. Filmed in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, what Liu first imagined as a high-energy document about skateboarding in his Rust Belt community ultimately became something much different.
Liu used over 12 years of footage to craft his film and, per the film’s official synopsis, he “discovers connections between two of his skateboarder friends’ volatile upbringings and the complexities of modern-day masculinity. As the film unfolds, Bing captures 23-year-old Zack’s tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend deteriorate after the birth of their son and 17-year-old Keire struggling with his racial identity as he faces new responsibilities following the death of his father. While navigating a difficult relationship between his camera and his friends, Bing weaves a story of generational forgiveness while exploring the precarious gap between childhood and adulthood.”
The film won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film comes complete with a hell of a documentary pedigree, and is executive produced by Oscar-nominated documentarian Steve James. Liu, who was mentored by James, developed the film through Chicago’s Kartemquin Films, and also serves as producer alongside Diane Quon. Oh, and Liu also edited the film alongside Joshua Altman.
In his Sundance review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote of the film, “Liu’s lovely portrait of wayward men stumbling into early adulthood functions both as a snapshot of their tumultuous lives and Liu’s own experience alongside them. Combining first-rate skate video footage with a range of confessional moments, ‘Minding the Gap’ is a warmhearted look at the difficulties of reckoning with the past while attempting to escape its clutches.”
Check out the first trailer for “Minding the Gap” below. Hulu and Magnolia Pictures will release the film in theaters on August 17.