SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Skate Dreams is director Jessica Edwards’ sophomore feature-length documentary. As the title implies, the filmmaker shines the spotlight on skateboarders; more specifically, she chronicles the rise of female skateboarders. With a punk rock sensibility and several intimate, personal stories playing out, the film will appeal to everyone who’s followed their dreams.
Amy Gunther Ellington grew up loving skateboarding but did not see many women in the sport. So, in 2001 she opened up KCDC in New York to help make female representation more visible. Mimi Knoop went pro in 2003 and quickly grew to prominence. Nora Vasconcellos is so popular she has branded her entire board, including the trucks. Growing up and loving the sport, they’ve all faced the same issues, issues that affected several other female skaters as well: underrepresentation, inequality, and an occasionally hostile environment. For example, at the X Games, the women’s prize money was far less than the men’s. So, they, along with others, boycotted, lobbied, and fought for change.
Now, they are helping the next generation of female skaters see people like them out there competing. As shown in ‘Tin’ Kouv Chansangva’s story, this is a global effort, as she’s one of Cambodia’s only female skateboarders and is now competing in the United States. Jordyn Barratt and Nicole Hause are both on the U.S. Skateboarding National Team, though the constant training and competitions, not to mention the delay due to the pandemic, is pushing them past their comfort zone.
“…chronicles the rise of female skateboarders.”
Skate Dreams tells these extraordinary narratives in a way that allows audiences to understand what drives these people. Edwards ensures all the skaters are given their proper due, as each is as equally important as the others. Chansangva’s portion is incredibly inspiring, while seeing fans of Vasconcellos lining up to get pictures with her warms the heart.
The director edits all the interviews with footage from competitions, the X Games, the skaters’ YouTube channels, and modern training sessions. This gives the film an all-encompassing scope while perfectly capturing the beauty, grace, and art one must possess to be a great skater. Just looking at how much control these athletes must have over their feet and balance is mindblowing.
Now, add in the spectacular soundtrack, and Skate Dreams becomes more kinetic and fun than expected. The cinematography and music work in tandem to capture the relentless spirit and artistic expression of these skaters. It’s all so energetic that it’ll make you want to go out and buy a board.
Skate Dreams is a wonderful and joyful look at the highs and lows of women skateboarders. The numerous subjects are all engaging, the cinematography top-notch, and the music slaps. So ollie on down to your local theater and have a blast watching the film.
Skate Dreams screened at the 2o22 SXSW Film Festival.
"…perfectly capturing the beauty, grace, and art one must possess to be a great skater."