Hot Docs – Highway Gospel

"If some of my friends would paid me more than beer to help invent my shit, I fucking maybe get somewhere, but all I get is drunk" — Jody "Schnitzel" Wilcock, skateboard innovator/race organizer.

Such is a part of the opening segment and it goes a fair way to establishing the tone of the film. The director, Jaret Belliveau, examines skateboard culture in Canada. Belliveau splits his focus between a group based in British Columbia and a skateboard veteran in Ottawa, Ontario.

The scene in British Columbia is thriving and vibrant. Bricin “Stryker” Lyons helped build up the community. Although he doesn’t skate much anymore, his colourful, raucous personality dominates meet-ups where he acts as announcer and life of the party in a shiny, bright purple suit. Jody "Schnitzel" Wilcock is a soft-spoken designer whose skateboards are some of the most sought after in the world. Young guns, such as Scott “Scoot” Smith, do the local scene proud.

Claude Regnier was a Canadian skateboard champion in the 80’s. At the age of 49, he continues to skate and teach skateboard at his own centre. He also continues to compete. Skateboarding is his life. His partner is supportive but the strains of their lifestyle show.

The nature of skateboarding is bold, brash and happy-go-lucky. It’s an attitude best suited to youth and the race segments with their groovy and fun vibe make up the best parts of the film. It’s clear that Belliveau is very much at home in these scenes. The film fares less well in between where the storytelling is rambling and incoherent.

Highway Gospel
Director: Jaret Belliveau
Program: Canadian Spectrum

Saturday, Apr 30, 9:30 pm, The Royal Cinema
Monday, May 2, 9:30 pm, The ROM Theatre
Saturday, May 7, 11:45 pm, Bloor Cinema

Written by Pauline Dong

A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.

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