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A chance meeting on the New York subway between Crystal Moselle (The Wolfpack, NZIFF15) and the titular female Skate Kitchen crew led to this vibrant film about freedom and friendship, in which the real-life skaters play versions of themselves.
When Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a lonely girl from Long Island, injures herself skateboarding, her mum bans her from ever skating again. But skating is everything to Camille. Seeing that a crew she follows on Instagram are going to be at a Lower East Side skate park, she is there in a heartbeat, and not only proves her ability but quickly fits in with everyone. The diverse, staunchly independent group skate together and discuss life in bedroom hangouts, all the while carving out their own unique space at the park.
When a boy skater (played by Jaden Smith) attracts Camille’s attention, things get complicated in the group, and she finds herself in a male world, sleeping on a sofa while guys at the other end of the room flick between nature docos, skate videos and porn. There is darkness hanging around the edges of the film, but, while it does owe Larry Clark’s NYC classic a shoutout, this is definitely not Kids.
The film’s best scenes, which resonate proudly with a sense of community and camaraderie, are when the crew are skating. The camera moves fluidly with the group as they take Manhattan, while Moselle’s documentary eye gives the film its grounded, observational realism. The irreverent, rowdy atmosphere is captured by a soundtrack featuring tracks including Princess Nokia’s ‘Kitana’ and Khalid’s ‘Young Dumb & Broke’.