UP ON THE ROOF Kevin and Garrison pause for a moment in Only the Young.
Among the dozens of films at this year's Camden International Film Festival, here are two we strongly recommend.
ONLY THE YOUNG | DIRECTED BY JASON TIPPET AND ELIZABETH MIMS | 68 MIN | SEPTEMBER 28 @ 9 PM | STRAND THEATRE, 345 MAIN ST, ROCKLAND
There might be no greater boon to today's young skateboarders than the Second Great Depression. Only the Young takes place in Southern California's Canyon Country, where the film's heroes, high school skate rats Garrison and Kevin and their trusted friend Skye, aren't even old enough to understand just how the wreckage of their particular corner of the world got there. And why should they? They're too busy refurbishing it for their own interests — bailing out filthy water from abandoned neighborhood swimming pools, spending pocket money on replacement decks, and phasing out hand-me-down wisdoms from their down-and-out parents, many of them absent or incarcerated. Replete with gorgeous shots of sunsoaked landscapes and action sequences of G and K ollie-ing off rooftops and halfpiping the kitchens of foreclosed homes, Only the Young superbly frames a contemporary cross-section of SoCal youth culture while bringing many of its most surprising and complex features into focus. The biggest: though they spend much of their time alone (or with the increasingly disillusioned Skye, whose own tormented supplications threaten to steal the show) Garrison and Kevin are veteran recruits in an unlikely mission of the Grace Baptist Church, whose teachings they mostly leave unchallenged. They travel by charter bus to local skate parks and hand out free tacos to other at-risk youth while their mentor (in both the skate world and beyond) preaches to junior high school boarders. "When you really want to be different you skate for Christ," he says, "not yourself or other people around you." With unscrupulous filmmaking or a less endearing cast, this might have been a crux of the film; instead it's one of the many compelling ironies captured without moral affect (another is the simple dissonance of watching shockingly behaviorally liberal adolescents in Crass and Black Flag shirts spouting off God-fearing, socially conservative doctrine). Audiences who don't care a lick about skateboarding shouldn't be deterred; Only the Young ultimately yields to a touchingly human love story — not necessarily between Garrison and the two young women who alternatingly command the attentions of his heart, but between him and Kevin, the first best friend whose life's path appears destined to diverge.
CALL ME KUCHU | DIRECTED BY KATHERINE FAIRFAX-WRIGHT AND MALIKA ZOUHALI-WORRALL | 87 MIN | SEPTEMBER 30 @ 10:30 AM | STRAND THEATRE, 345 MAIN ST, ROCKLAND
, Camden, Southern California, CIFF, More