In his directorial debut, Bing Liu shocks America with a carefully crafted depiction of love and loss. In his Hulu original, “Minding The Gap,” he displays the true stories of three young skateboarders, including himself, in an attempt to break the cycle of anguish in their poverty-stricken town.
Liu uses real-life footage compiled over 12 years to discuss issues such as domestic violence, racial discrimination and self-medicating prominent in the characters’ own upbringings. This film takes the viewer through an emotional rollercoaster as they see the protagonists grow and regress through interpersonal, documentary-style filming.
What makes this film unique is the role that skateboarding plays in their lives. Originally, skating was a means to get out of their difficult home environments, but it quickly evolved into a symbol of their community.
Many have likened this artistic piece to the newly released Jonah Hill film, “Mid90s.” Although the two share the common symbol of skating, “Minding The Gap” dives deeper through its real-life portrayal of personal growth.
The setting is extremely important to note. The protagonists grow up in Rockford, Illinois, and struggle to find their way out as they reach adulthood. Liu consistently uses news reports in the film that indicate the alarming statistics of violence, crime and poverty.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances endured by the protagonists, this film radiates the beautiful perspective of wanting more out of life. By accompanying the characters through the bad times, the viewer can gain full appreciation for the success they receive.
This film is climbing watchlists across the country after its recent nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 2019 Oscars.
Bing Liu can consider his directorial debut a success knowing that his message was not just received, but welcomed by the film community and social justice advocates alike.