Minding the Gap (15)****

Dir: Bing Liu

With: Kiere Johnson, Bing Liu, Zack Mulligan

Runtime: 93 minutes

AFTER serving his time as part of the camera crew on other people’s films, Bing Liu took the helm as director, only for his first feature, Minding the Gap, to be Oscar-nominated. That’s not bad going in anyone’s book.

On the face of it, there is little remarkable about his Illinois-set film. It’s Liu hanging out with and filming two skateboarding friends, Kiere Johnson (above) and Zack Mulligan, the same thing he has been doing since they were all kids.

But it soon becomes clear that this is something deeper, more serious, as the three get older and their lives change. For each young man, skateboarding provided an escape from what was going on at home, and it is when Liu turns his attention to the past, and in one case the present, that the real business of the film begins. As it says on Kiere’s board, “This device cures heartache”. Poignant, beautifully shot (as you would expect), and brutally honest in parts, Missing the Gap has surprises in store, becoming genuinely gripping the deeper Liu digs. The scene where he interviews his mother about her choice of partner in the past is one you won’t forget in a hurry. A real documentary talent is born.

GFT till March 28