Rachel Vinberg, Ardeila Lovelace, Jaden Smith, Elizabeth Rodriguez
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… a rare representation of race, sexual preference and embracing those moments you have before adulthood.
Skate Kitchen might just be 2018’s feminist answer to the dude-heavy culture of skating. It’s been three years since Crystal Moselle’s debut, The Wolfpack, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, scoring the Documentary Grand Jury Prize. This time Moselle returns to the big screen with a semi-biographical drama about an untainted underground New York City through the eyes of very-relatable teen skater girls, which was also screened at Sundance.
The film follows protagonist Camille (Rachel Vinberg, founding Skate Kitchen member), an introverted suburban teen from Long Island, who befriends an all-female posse of skateboarders from New York City’s Lower East Side. Despite her mother’s wishes for her to leave the life of skating behind, she runs away to be with her new friends, and although a tad clichéd – a daughter wanting to escape from her controlling mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and her traditional ways – there is much solace in Camille’s journey, as she earns full credibility with the crew and slowly comes out of her shell.
When the all-girl skater group welcomes Camille with open arms, she is suddenly immersed in a world of full of unapologetic youth; smoking weed, drinking, and just hanging out with friends. Camille soon finds a close friend in Janay (Ardeila Lovelace) who offers her a roof over her head, but it’s not long before she also finds comfort in another, Devon (Jaden Smith), a co-worker and member of the rival all-male skate crew. It’s quite refreshing to see Devon celebrate Camille’s talent as he follows her with a camera, carving up the streets of the Lower East Side. Typically, their skater girl-meets-skater boy ‘friendship’ is frowned upon and tension ensues within the girl-crew. This leaves Camille back at square one. The irony is that the mother she ran away from is now the very person she’s running back to, which can be a relatable aspect of the film for a young audience.
While Skate Kitchen combines the elements of a typical feel-good, coming of age hangout movie, the film is so much more than that. It’s a rare insight into what might possibly be the unheard youth of America; a rare representation of race, sexual preference and embracing those moments you have before adulthood. Additionally it’s a film to be congratulated for its strong representation and empowering female roles.