Minding the Gap ★★★★½

*puts on what looks to be a fun documentary about friends who skate*
*resets "films since ugly cry" wall calendar to zero*

Will be writing about this in Monster Lookout, but if you're making your NZIFF schedule, do *not* leave this one out.

ETA: Here's my Monster Lookout review.

"Self-photographed skater kids documentary" may sound like a film with a self-selecting audience, but look closer. Even if you've no interest in skating, Bing Liu's debut feature, spanning several years in the life of himself and two teen friends, speaks to universals. How does one transition into being an adult? If you make your friends your family, what happens when they get their own family? And if your family has treated you badly, are you destined to repeat that pattern? Produced by Kartemquin Films (founded by Steve James - Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, etc.), Minding The Gap - a fantastically polyvalent name - milks drama from life in Rockford, Illinois in a similar way to many of its other associated documentaries, but gains a disarming closeness to its subjects that can only come from years of friendship - or the scars of family. Whether Bing Liu has another film in him is an open question, but this one is stunning, an emotional gutpunch that comes highly recommended. (And the skating footage is really great, too, if you're there for that!)

Doug liked this review