POV: Minding the Gap

POV: Minding the Gap

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 9:00pm - 10:30pm

Photo: Keire smiles after landing a difficult jump off a shed

Credit: Courtesy of Bing Liu

This POV film gives us an intimate look into friendships initiated via a passion for skateboarding and cemented by shared experience.

The resulting bonds are as strong as any between members of a conventional family. This captivating coming-of-age story tackles topics like domestic violence, relationships and masculinity, all while its three central subjects approach adulthood. Minding the Gap, a POV presentation airing Monday, February 18, 2019 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV, is a compelling story that is relatable across age, class and race. Directed by Bing Liu, the film is a co-production of ITVS, Kartemquin Films and American Documentary | POV and a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). 

A critical hit, the film has won numerous awards, including the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, the Top Audience Pick: World Showcase Program at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival and the prize for Best First Time Director at the 2018 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. It is a nominee for Best Documentary at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards and received seven bids for the 2019 Cinema Eye Honors, matching the record for the showcase.

This documentary chronicles the lives of the filmmaker’s friends from a small town outside Chicago. Bing artfully compiles clips from their early teens up to the present day, following each of them through every step of their lives. We see them grow into young adults, grappling with what it means to be men in present-day America.

Skateboarding is a central thread throughout the film. Accompanying the group on extensive high-speed rides, we begin to see how skateboarding is not just something to do, but a shared activity that is deeply meditative and therapeutic for each of them. Trying new tricks, encouraging each other and spending time together, they form a bond much stronger than the mere term “friend” indicates. Skateboarding is their escape.

Zack, a subject of the film and Bing’s friend, explains the power of this project: “Some people do take their negative experiences and turn them into powerful, positive things.” This film does exactly that. It gives people a space to talk openly about their experiences. And Keire, another subject and friend of Bing’s, dives into one of the main topics of the film when he says to Bing, “I get mad at skateboarding, like, a lot, but at the end of the day I love it so much that I can’t stay mad at it.”"But it hurts you?” Bing asks. Keire responds, “Yeah, so did my dad, but I love him to death.”    

Minding the Gap is a profound and cinematic exploration of what it means to become a man, all cloaked in the revelry of youth,” said Chris White, executive producer for POV. “The skateboarding footage is thrilling—sure to turn skate-skeptics into fans—and gives us an intimate way to connect with all of the young men and their stories. This is a revelatory, heartbreaking and hopeful film that opens a much-needed discussion about experiences usually kept in the shadows.”