Film: Shanghai 5
Director: Charles Lanceplaine
Shanghai 5 is a film about skateboarding in Shanghai. While the film is focussed on the burgeoning skating scene in Shanghai, it also touches on a lot of interesting cultural and socio-political values prevalent in China at the moment and how it affects skateboarding and skating culture. Throughout the film, director Charles Lanceplaine intersperses beautifully shot scenes of Shanghai's vast cityscapes, interviews with the main proponents of the skating scene and of course, plenty of shots of the skaters themselves doing what they do best.
While I couldn't be considering a skating fan by any stretch of the imagination, I found watching Shanghai 5 a very moving experience. On a personal level, Shanghai is quite a familiar place to me having been there a few times and it's a city that I have a real love/hate relationship with. The film also goes much deeper than any other skating film I've seen, widening its scope so as to include musings on Chinese culture and the ever-changing political identity of the country and commenting on how these factors heavily affect the development of skateboarding in the city. There's some really great first-hand accounts of how the 'one-child-policy' affects how young people approach skateboarding; in one instance, a professional talks about the clash in interest between his parents wanting him to study intensively for his high school exams and his own desire to become a professional skateboarder. It reminded me of when I spoke to Rustic, a punk band from Beijing; they told me that aside from their own parents being against what they were doing, Carsick Cars singer Shou Wang still had arguments with his parents about his career, even though he's in China's biggest indie rock band and has toured with Sonic Youth and travelled the world playing music. The film takes the view that I myself take, and that is that the 'one-child-policy' makes parents incredibly eager for their child to succeed at any price and by success, they mean graduating from university and getting a well-paid job. The level of dedication shown by the skaters in the film is the same as with Chinese bands that I know; they do it out of pure passion, as there is rarely any real financial gain for them.
The film is technically very well-shot and features a great soundtrack of stuff from Gui Boratto to Bonobo and some very old Chinese pop music. You can watch the whole film in HD on Vimeo.