Minding the Gap

Minding the Gap is a 2018 documentary film directed by Bing Liu.[1] It was produced by Liu and Diane Moy Quon through Kartemquin Films. It chronicles the lives and friendships of three young men growing up in Rockford, Illinois, united by their love of skateboarding.[2] The film received critical acclaim, winning the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.[3][4]

Minding the Gap
Directed byBing Liu
Produced by
  • Keire Johnson
  • Zack Mulligan
  • Bing Liu
CinematographyBing Liu
Edited by
  • Joshua Altman
  • Bing Liu
Music by
  • Nathan Halpern
  • Chris Ruggiero
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 21, 2018 (2018-01-21) (Sundance)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States


Bing Liu lives in Rockford, Illinois. He has two friends he met through skateboarding: Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan. As they reach adulthood, Zack becomes a father and stops skating in order to become a roofer and support his family. Keire supports himself with a job as a dishwasher.

Over the course of the film all three friends reveal that they grew up in abusive homes. Zack and his partner Nina begin to have difficulties in their relationship and Bing learns that Zack has been abusive towards Nina. A venture to create an indoor skatepark falls apart and Zack is left with fewer options. Nina repeatedly leaves him.

Keire becomes a waiter and focuses on trying to educate himself. He grows apart from Zack and finds himself chafing against the racism of the town which even comes from his friends. Though his father was abusive he finds himself reflecting on positive memories of their relationship and the ways in which his father influenced him.

Zack finally separates from Nina for good and the two have a contentious relationship with Nina filing for child support after he abruptly leaves the state. He eventually returns and slides further into alcoholism, struggling with how his decisions might affect his young son.

Keire finally earns enough money to move to Denver.

A post-script reveals that Nina is pursuing a degree, Zack has been promoted at work and Keire has been successful in Denver pursuing both his educational goals and a career as a professional skateboarder.


The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking.[3] In June 2018, Hulu acquired the distribution rights, and it was released theatrically and on Hulu on August 17, 2018.[3][5] It aired on PBS on February 18, 2019, as part of the network's POV series.[6]


Minding the Gap is Liu's first feature film. A. O. Scott of the New York Times called it an "astonishing debut feature" and "a rich, devastating essay on race, class and manhood in 21st-century America."[7] Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic called it "an extraordinary feat of filmmaking."[8] Richard Brody of The New Yorker wrote that the images of skateboarding "are merely the background and context for the film," whose "substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth."[9] The film has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 8.68/10. The site's consensus reads: "Minding the Gap draws on more than a decade of documentary footage to assemble a poignant picture of young American lives that resonates far beyond its onscreen subjects".[10] It also holds a 90/100 average on Metacritic.[11] Former U.S. President and Illinoisian Barack Obama cited the film as one of his favorites of 2018.[12]


The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature and the Truer Than Fiction Award.[13] It was nominated for five Critics' Choice Awards,[14] and was named one of the Top Documentaries by the National Board of Review.[15] It won a 2018 Peabody Award,[16] and won the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Non-Fiction Film.[17] After being shortlisted, Minding the Gap was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.[18][19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The 5 nominated documentaries and how to watch them – Vox
  2. ^ Cleveland International Film Festival
  3. ^ a b c Evans, Greg (June 5, 2018). "Hulu Acquires Bing Liu' 'Minding The Gap'; Doc Nabbed Sundance Jury Award". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  4. ^ France, Lisa Respers (22 January 2019). "Oscars 2019: See who's nominated". CNN. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  5. ^ Metz, Nina (August 15, 2018). "A conversation with Bing Liu about his documentary 'Minding the Gap'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Phillips, Michael (27 December 2018). "Chicagoan of the Year: Bing Liu, Rockford filmmaker could make a splash at the Oscars". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  7. ^ Scott, A. O. (August 16, 2018). "Review: 'Minding the Gap' Is an Astonishing Film About American Life". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (August 18, 2018). "Minding the Gap Is an Extraordinary Feat of Filmmaking". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Brody, Richard (August 17, 2018). ""Minding the Gap," Reviewed: A Self-Questioning Documentary About What Happened to a Group of Young Skaters". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  10. ^ "Minding the Gap". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  11. ^ Minding the Gap, retrieved 2019-11-09
  12. ^ "Barack Obama on Instagram: "As 2018 draws to a close, I'm continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and…"". Instagram. 28 December 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  13. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 16, 2018). "Independent Spirit Awards: 'Eighth Grade,' 'First Reformed' Among Best Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  14. ^ Erbland, Kate (October 15, 2018). "Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominees Announced: 'Free Solo,' 'Minding the Gap,' and 'Wild Wild Country' Lead Nods". Indiewire. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  15. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 27, 2018). "'Green Book' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Best Stories of 2018". Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  17. ^ Sharf, Zack (29 November 2018). "NYFCC 2018 Winners: 'Roma' Dominates With Wins for Best Picture, Director, and More". Indiewire. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  18. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (17 December 2018). "Oscar Shortlists in 9 Categories Reveal Some Surprising Picks". New York Times. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Free Solo" wins Best Documentary Feature-Oscars on YouTube

External linksEdit