Shanghai 5: Skateboarding Documentary

Shanghai 5 is a documentary of the development of the the city’s skate culture and their on-going love affair with it’s dreamy urban architecture. The debut screening was held at The Source, back in early December and I really wish I could have made it along. Late or not Shanghai 5 deserves to be written about. More after the jump.

Watching Shanghai 5 reminds me of some reasons I enjoy bicycling here: the love/hate relationship with the traffic (particularly taxis, bikes and buses) and security guards, smooth flat roads, the rush of blood and the feeling I imagine to resemble flying. For some reason, it also makes me feel proud to be part of this city, contributing a drop in this cultural ocean and surrounded by other young people with much more talent. As skater Brian Smith says, “[Shanghai] is a great place to be super young, because there’s so many options for things to do and you just suck-in all this culture and all this action and excitement.”

The film is beautifully shot, has an exciting score with more depth and personality than other skate films I’ve scene; and the standard of skating is eye-opening, to say the least. I watched it by myself on my laptop and it still moved me (physically and audibly) on more than a few occasions. But the one moment that sums up why love this film is at 17min 19sec when a young skater lands an incredible 20-stair grind, walks back with a huge smile and hand slaps the security guard. The moment captures the warmth and intense excitement in the tight-knit community of young Chinese and expat skateboarders. It’s the kind of love story that you can’t fake.

I take my hate off to filmmaker Charles Lanceplaine.

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