Love & Anarchy screens two films, where the world is made better with skateboarding and independence is found one trick at a time.
There was a skatepark next to my childhood home in Klaukkala, Nurmijärvi. Boys would be skating there at night, being loud and competing over who’s the most badass guy in town. It was a magical place, one where we grew up, had our first kisses, rebelled – and I believe a few fellas even broke their ankles there. They were the most legendary heroes of our town and stories from that skate park often grew into big and bombastic adventures. In reality, it was a tiny piece of concrete with a few ramps and railings. The elderly people complained about the noise the youths were making while drinking cheap beer. To the elderly, the park was a stain, something to be ashamed of – but for us, it was the coolest place in town.
This year, Love and Anarchy screens two films about skateboarding: Jonah Hill’s Mid90s and Crystal Moselle’s Skate Kitchen. Both explore the pain of adolescence and growing up, but from different perspectives. Mid90s is a coming-of-age tale told from the point of view of a young boy. Skate Kitchen is a colourful and warm tale about female friendship. Both films remind the viewer of how difficult it is to be in between childhood and adulthood.
In both films our main characters, Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) in Skate Kitchen and Stevie (Sunny Suljic) in Mid90s, discover comradery in a bigger group, specifically a group of skaters. Camille hits it up with the girls of the Skate Kitchen collective and Stevie hangs out in the local skateboard shop, drinking beer and smoking weed with the other guys. Both groups want to better their worlds, from their skateboards, one trick at a time. Their homes are shown as a prison of sorts, a dreary place where you only stop by to sleep.
Stevie and Camille desire their own community, a family, since their biological families are unable to give them the same sense of intimacy and belonging as their respective skate groups.
Stevie and Camille desire their own community, a family, since their biological families are unable to give them the same sense of intimacy and belonging as their respective skate groups. Both Stevie and Camille live with their single mothers; both come from broken families and especially Stevie is missing a caring father figure. Camille’s mother can’t understand her daughter’s will to spend all her time on a skateboard. In both films, the mothers try their best, but are unable to help their children.
The skating community is able to provide the young adults of both films something better, something bigger. Skate Kitchen especially highlights Camille’s small hometown and her friends encourage her to visit New York, which proves to be equally magical to Camille as that skatepark was for me. Both Stevie and Camille are looking for independence and freedom, yet long for the feeling of belonging.
Stevie’s problems can’t be erased by practicing a new trick on your board as these are wounds that run much deeper.
Although both films are very similar in their themes, Mid90s finds very dark tones towards the end. Stevie becomes self-destructive and his experimenting with drugs and alcohol gets out of hand. Hill examines the pain of being young and depicts the loneliness, which can’t be alleviated by hanging out with your friends. Stevie’s problems can’t be erased by practicing a new trick on your board as these are wounds that run much deeper.
The women of Skate Kitchen may not fall into self-destructiveness, but the film powerfully reveals the gender gap in skate culture and our own tendency to see skating as a male sport. In the beginning of the film Camille falls down on her board and hurts herself. As the blood trickles down her legs, another skater assumes Camille has got her period. Camille is constantly in spaces inhabited by men and masculinity before the introduction of the girls of the skate collective.
Growing up is full of ups and downs and for a reason.
Both films work as an excellent reminder of our own issues as adolescents. You may not have tried your luck on a skateboard, but you will most likely be able to relate to the films, because they portray such universal themes. Growing up is full of ups and downs and for a reason: it is a journey filled with endless confusion and self-hatred, as Mid90s especially points out. Our most valued relationships, those rock-hard friendships, can also be the most destructive ones, as both films prove. Through many mistakes these friendships push us towards a better version of ourselves.
Camille and Stevie aren’t exactly adults by the end of their stories. They are works in progress, people who’ve learned something valuable about themselves and the world around them.
Text and translation: Maria Lättilä