SOUTH Korean social satire Parasite may have rightly grabbed all the attention at the 92nd annual Academy Awards, but another sports-themed flick also caught our eye.
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) was the year's best documentary short at the Oscars, a 40-minute piece that follows two dozen or so underprivileged girls in Kabul, Afghanistan, who are attending a school called Skateistan.
The school's name is cute, but its reality is not. Snippets from the documentary show the harshness of life inside a city that's still recovering from war — the students are frisked from head to toe when they enter the school, some teachers refuse to have their face on camera, and Fatima, one of the institution's support staff, says, "There are many dangers. Street harassment. Even kidnapping."
But it's still a tender look at a school that doesn't just teach the girls — some of whom are as young as eight years old — how to read and write, but also how to skate.
The best parts of the documentary happen when the cameras focus on the girls, in headscarves, long dresses, skate shoes, and helmets, taking their first tentative rides up a vert ramp.
In the Philippines, it's women who've been spearheading the resurgence of skateboarding as a competitive sport. With an eye for qualifying in the Olympics, SEA Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal has become the new face of skate.
But in other countries, female skaters may not have the same chances.
"I'm a good skater, and I want to take part in international competitions," said one of the older students interviewed in Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). "It's difficult to skate in the streets because I'm a girl, and this is Afghanistan."
You can watch the documentary in full here. However, it seems to require a "TV provider sign up." While the documentary is not yet up for wide release in the country, enterprising Spin.ph readers can watch it online at a major streaming site.