Basically: I thought every skateboarding documentary was exactly the same, but We Are Blood proved me entirely wrong.
I never understood skate culture. Last month, I placed my right foot on my boyfriend’s old skateboard, pushed off with my left, and rode down the hallway of his apartment without falling or holding the walls for balance. It was a victory I had practiced for weeks to achieve. My experience and knowledge of skateboarding ends there.
Skating doesn’t shine in the mainstream the way football or baseball does. People don’t buy premium cable bundles just to watch certain skaters, or have fantasy skating leagues, or bet hundreds of dollars on certain skateboarders. Needless to say, I was skeptical when I was invited to the Boston premiere of Ty Evans’ latest project We Are Blood at the New England Aquarium IMAX Theater.
We Are Blood certainly has all of the typical skate stuff—a group of kids skating to loud music, edited so that every grind and landed trick is perfectly timed with a bass drop, occasionally you see someone break a bone—but it was more like a travel documentary through the eyes of a group of skateboarders. They move around the world, from the busy streets and dark alleys of New York City and Los Angeles, to famous landmarks in Barcelona, to the ghettos of Brazil, to undiscovered skate spots in Dubai. The narrators introduce viewers to skating natives of all these places. They tell their stories about how skateboarding has helped them find solidarity in the face of adversity.
We Are Blood examines the way adversity creates an immediate bond upon meeting a fellow skater. Classism and racism are just a couple of the barriers viewers see broken down throughout the film. The skaters face police officers and bystanders who stereotype them as criminals or vandals, especially in more developed countries.
The film also addresses physical disability through Brandon White, an enormously talented skater with relentless drive, who also happens to be deaf. He opens up about losing his hearing as a child, and the bullying he faced growing up. But White, like his fellow traveling skaters, is empowered by the obstacles he faces, and he uses skating to cope.
We Are Blood showed me what it means to see the world from a skateboarder’s view. They see a world of potential in boring, mundane structures, and push themselves to the limit entirely through self-motivation. They are a community of inclusion, where judgment is not an option.
As I left the theater, a group of 30-something skaters hopped on their skateboards and zipped past me. A few hours ago, I probably wouldn’t have given them much thought. But now, I can’t help but wonder where they’re going, where they’ve been, and what their stories are. I think I’m starting to get it.
In the end: You should watch it, whether you know next to nothing about the sport or you’ve been skating your whole life, but brace yourself for broken bones, blood, and vomit among all the heartwarming feel-goodness of this film.