2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: MINDING THE GAP

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Bing Liu

Bing Liu crafts a sensitive, personal portrait of a group of longtime friends.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Welcome to Rockford, Illinois, the heartland of the post-industrial rust belt of America. But more importantly, welcome to the revelatory work of Bing Liu, an electrifying new voice in documentary filmmaking.

Bing, 24, returns home and reconnects with his friends Zack and Keire, who he’s been skateboarding with since childhood. Archival recordings of their former glory coupled with current interviews and extraordinary skateboard footage tell the story of three young men who banded together to escape their volatile families. As they grow up before our eyes, unexpected revelations threaten to crash their decade-long friendship.

In MINDING THE GAP, Bing Liu defies so many of the “no-no’s” of conventional documentary filmmaking: he’s in his own film, he breaks the fourth wall often, and he embraces filmmaking as therapy – yet it all works brilliantly. What emerges is an insider’s story that defies the media’s fixation of the skateboarder as mindless slacker and digs into the heart of modern-day masculinity. This provocative film explores the gap between fathers and sons, between discipline and domestic abuse, and ultimately that precarious chasm between childhood and becoming an adult.

Some Background:

  • Bing Liu

    This is Liu’s directorial debut, which received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program. He is also a segment director of 2018 Sundance Indie Episodic series AMERICA TO ME.


  • Diane Quon

    Quon previously worked at NBC and Paramount Pictures. This marks her first project at Sundance.

Executive Producers:

  • Steve James
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS (2016, episode director)
    LIFE ITSELF (2014, director)
    THE INTERRUPTERS (2011, director)
    REEL PARADISE (2005, director)
    STEVIE (2003, director)
    HOOP DREAMS (1994/2014, director)

    The acclaimed Chicago-based documentarian has had a long association with Sundance and with fellow executive producers at Kartemquin Films. He also brings his series, AMERICA TO ME, to the festival this year in the Indie Episodic section.

  • Gordon Quinn
    Past Sundance docs:

    A LION IN THE HOUSE (2006, consulting editor)
    STEVIE (producer/executive producer)
    HOOP DREAMS (co-producer/executive producer)

    Quinn is a co-founder and the longtime artistic director of Kartemquin Films. He is one of the executive producers of Indie Episodic series AMERICA TO ME.

  • Betsy Steinberg

    Steinberg has been Kartemquin’s executive director since 2015. This, together with AMERICA TO ME, marks her first Sundance credit.

  • Sally Jo Fifer
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    THE FORCE (2017)
    MOTHERLAND (2017)
    QUEST (2017)
    NEWTOWN (2016)
    TRAPPED (2016)

    President/CEO of ITVS, Fifer has regularly provided funding and broadcast support for past Sundance films.

  • Justine Nagan and Chris White
    Combined past Sundance docs:

    PERVERT PARK (2015)

    American Documentary’s Executive Director and Executive Producer respectively frequently include Sundance alumni as part of the long-running POV series on PBS. Nagan previously served as Executive Director of Kartemquin, and is also an executive producer of AMERICA TO ME.


Why You Should Watch:
Liu’s debut is an engrossing longitudinal exploration of the lives of young men, a moving project at once a coming of ager addressing race and class, a chronicle of friendships set in a skating subculture, and a story about families and the legacy of domestic abuse.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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