Today, America finds itself in a strange position as a country riven by conflict. Whilst Donald Trump’s politics and persona are well and truly hideous, his success has highlighted the large minority of society who feel ignored, betrayed and unrepresented by the political elite. There are few areas where this economic and social decline has been so prevalent as the Rust Belt. Rockford, Illinois is one such town. It’s the setting for Bing Liu’s extremely personal, and quite frankly stunning, documentary Minding the Gap.
Minding the Gap is a coming-of-age story which follows three friends brought together and connected through skateboarding. Zack has just become a father for the first time and is scared by this new responsibility and having to ‘become an adult’. Keire is on the cusp of turning 18 and about to start his first real job, but still traumatised by his relationship with his late father. Bing is trying to come to terms with the abuse he received as a child and the impact that has had on his life.
Minding the Gap us one of the most important American documentaries of the last decade. Bing Liu’s debut is beautifully shot and edited. Through film charting their childhood to the present day he paints the picture of three men traumatised and ‘damaged’ by their upbringings. It’s particularly impressive how he manages to juggle his involvement with directing. There’s an important lesson to be learned here about the cycle of abuse and the effect of nurture and parenting. Hopefully these three friends will be able to overcome their demons.