After making a splash in 2015 with the documentary The Wolfpack, winner of a Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, director Crystal Moselle breaks into narrative cinema with the sensational Skate Kitchen. Moselle uses a mostly non-professional cast—outside of musical phenom Jaden Smith—to populate this coming-of-age tale, which she based on the lives of real-life Skate Kitchen girls she met on a train (many of whom she featured in her 2016 short That One Day). In Skate Kitchen, we’re offered a beautiful, queer-inclusive glimpse into the subculture of female skateboarding, a subculture whose popularity never seems to die out with new generations.
The loosely structured plot revolves around Long Island teen Camille, who is a fish out of water in the boys’ club world of skateboarding. But toxic bro mentalities, along with her conservative mom’s daily screed against the horrors of skateboarding, make no difference to her at all. After a war of words with her mom leads Camille to take off from the suburbs and head solo to the Lower East Side, she finds kinship in a feisty and subversive group of young female skaters. After vetting Camille properly, they take her on a “skate date” and introduce her to the world of urban skateboarding, which opens the door to friendship, rivals, and—most unexpectedly—love. Shot with a deep awareness of youth culture and the balmy vibes of a New York City summer, Skate Kitchen unearths an exhilarating sense of freedom and improvisation that rings true on every level.
— EBEN J. BENSON
- Premiere Status: Bay Area