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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Film review: Hill Street

Cert: tbc

Hilary A White

WHATEVER your views of skateboarding, one thing is clear from this new Irish film – you can't keep a good subculture down. JJ Rolfe's 90-minute love-in shows that Dublin's skate community exists today only because of the conviction and passion of its devotees, who, surprise surprise, are very human indeed.

Rolfe deems it necessary for alumni in LA – megastar Tony Hawks, Skatelab's Todd Hubber – to provide a contextual dialogue in parallel to the fortunes of Dublin's skaters. At the epicentre of today's forthright and more politically correct fraternity is Clive Rowan, proprietor of Clive's of Hill Street, where equipment and like minds are to be found.

Rowan and co take us through the early days when Hill Street was a dicey enough place to carry a valuable board in the open. Pressure from security guards in areas like the famed former AIB on Baggot Street or Central Bank on Dame Street led to the establishment of custom-designed skateparks, varying from shambolic indoor circuits to snazzy council-built facilities and Rowan's elaborate and spacious remodelling of the Top Hat Ballroom in Monkstown (where the culture was cast in concrete during a visit by Hawks).

Rolfe balances heart and edge very well while making great use of a fine soundtrack. Do not, however, expect to hear from opposing camps – business owners terrified of public liability suits, concerned parents, the fashion police – as Hill Street is not a 'documentary' in the strictest sense.

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