Director: Bing Liu
Starring: Bing Liu, Zack, Keire
Release Date August 17, 2018
Skating through the streets of Rockford, Illinois, childhood friends Zack, Kiere and Bing go through the same troubles and triumphs every kid faces. Minding The Gap is the product of 12 years of making skate videos, growing up, and documenting what life in Rockford was like for Bing and his skater friends.
Minding the Gap is Bing Liu’s first and only movie to date. The beauty in this Hulu original is the way Liu captures both the reality and the fear of adulthood. Our director Bing appears throughout the documentary, however, he is not the focal point. Instead, Minding The Gap mostly follows Zack as he navigates through a rocky relationship with his baby mama, and Kiere as he struggles to find his way in the world.
Zack is a care free, free-spirited kid, who’s a little off the rails, not only on his board but also in his daily life. Zack clearly has good intentions and his heart is in the right place, he just can’t get out of his own way. Zack makes one mistake after another, whether that is drinking too much, potentially striking the mother of his child, or moving to Colorado shortly after his baby is born.
Kiere, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Kiere, who is only about 17, is very sensitive and kind. Kiere, unlike Zack, isn’t burdened by adult responsibility. He has no bills, he has no baby, and he has no baby momma drama. Kiere, is burdened by the fear of never making it, the fear of never making a sound living for himself, and the fear of never making it out of Rockford. Kiere, whose father passed away sometime before filming, is still clearly battling with the loss of his father, a man who was hard on his son and disciplined him in a way that is, as Kiere put it, “called child abuse now.”
As for Bing, our director, he isn’t shown as much in the movie due to the fact he is the one making it. Nevertheless, Bing is still a person worth recognizing. Bing is a shy Asian American, a guy who according to one local skate shop owner, “growing up, loved skating. Not to fit in. He just genuinely loved doing it.” Bing also talks about the relationship he had with a man his mother dated, a man who would abuse Bing as soon as his mother would turn the other way.
Minding the Gap, on its surface, is a beautifully shot skate documentary; a film that follows three childhood friends as they rip through the cold Illinois streets. The movie intertwines old, shaky homemade skate videos with shots that were made specifically for the film’s purpose. Minding the Gap is much more than just a skating documentary. It is a deep cut into the insecurities we all face as we grow older. It is also a case study into the reality of raw domestic violence.
Minding The Gap can still be streamed on Hulu. Whether you have skated or not, it is a movie that is Worth A Look. As someone who doesn’t watch documentaries often, I have to say that this film has changed my whole perception on the genre. Bing, Zack, and Kiere feel like the same people we all knew and grew up with. Between this and Mid 90’s 2018 has been a great year for skating movies, even if both may be more about growing up than actually skating.