The Power of Documentary, Skateboarding and the Taste for Freedom

It’s amazing what short documentaries can do. Viewing the MA Documentary NTU showcase films at Nottingham’s Broadway this week, a number of moving themes and people hit me: the charismatic head of the “deaf olympics”; a protestor blinded as part of Egypt’s Arab Spring; gender discrimination in skateboarding and dedication and love for skateboarding. There’s the added complication of skateboarding now being made an Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020t, bringing it funding and respect, but maybe making it lose its transgressive element. It’s origins come from the DIY punk aesthetic, challenging the status quo. But skateboarding still has the cool clothes, the music, the community, and the vibe.

As coincidences had it, straight after the film, up in the Broadway bar, I met a professional skateboarder Rhys, who had skated with the all the main folk I’d written about in the film ‘Kids’, recently published in ‘Film International’ and it was great to hear Nottingham as the San Francisco of the north. Back down south, every day for ten years I took a bus from Elstree to St Albans for school. It would have been amazing to have done that on a skateboard. When I first started school the bus picked us up from outside a skateboarding shop in Theobald Street opposite The Crown, under a mile from our house. I wanted one of their cool boards but I made my own with my sister, DIY style, and we went around Elstree’s hills. Despite our amateurish lack of skills we gained the sense of freedom, a taste for it which I hope I still have.

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