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Inside Out Review: ‘Skate Kitchen’ is the Finest Illustration of Feminism, and a Love Letter to New York City

May 26, 2018Ferdosa Abdi

Crystal Moselle's narrative feature debut is a charming, raw and candid look at the world of a women's skateboard crew. In the male-dominated sports, these young women rise to popularity for passionately pursuing the sport and making New York their playground.

Based on the real-life Skate Kitchen, Moselle crafts a film that straddle the lines between fiction and non-fiction. The members of the real Skate Kitchen essentially play themselves, without employing their real names. It is as though Moselle dropped into their lives and started to document this posse of female skateboarders. The real-life skaters retain their own personalities and don't let the camera dissuade them from acting true to themselves.

However, it is fiction. The story follows founding Skate Kitchen member Rachelle Vinberg as Camille from Long Island, who after a serious injury promises to quit skateboarding for her worried mother's sake. But the thrill and camaraderie of this female skate community draws her back in. She takes a trip to New York and is quickly inducted into this group of supportive girls who are bold, gorgeous and unabashedly themselves. Many on the verge of adulthood, these girls take every chance they get to live their young lives to the fullest. They aren't foolish about taking risky chances, though. They savor each moment skating, smoking, dressing how they want to dress, and partying. Their friendship and support system are the finest illustration of feminism, and the most enjoyable part is that they are real.

As a New Yorker herself, Moselle makes it abundantly clear that these girls have another wonderful friend, and her name is New York City. New York is more than just Skate Kitchen's playground; it is their foundation, the city that nurtures their artistic and creative minds. It is the city that gave them this family, and Moselle can build an entire career on pointing her camera on those who make New York so fascinating, just as she did with her documentary, The Wolfpack. Her love and admiration for her city and the people who inhabit it are what makes Skate Kitchen a must-see, and are what make it a valid movie.

Skate Kitchen screened Friday, May 25th at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 46 min.

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