Premiere of Chicago-based doc SKATE OR DIE at the Music Box Theatre

Leonardo Castillo

The Music Box Theatre and Flyback Productions present the Chicago Premiere of director Ryan Ferguson’s Chicago-based skateboarding doc SKATE OR DIE, with Cast and Crew Q&A, on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 4:15pm.

Filmed over several years, SKATE OR DIE is a riveting documentary feature that is making its long-awaited, hometown, theatrical premiere.

The film was produced by New York Times reporter Azam Ahmed and concerns 17-year-old Leonardo Castillo, who uses skateboarding to help escape gang life and generational poverty in his Chicago neighborhood.


By the end of his teens, Leo Castillo has already endured more tragedy than most: witnessing an older brother killed by police, a younger brother wooed ever-closer to gang affiliation, an impoverished home-life, and a father he’s never known. Through this tumult, skateboarding has always provided him solace, a literal and figurative vehicle to escape the rampant violence of his southwest Chicago neighborhood.

That is until one summer day, when a bullet rips through his calf, causing nerve damage and threatening his ability to ever skate again. Faced with this reality and armed with little more than street-smarts and the support of his best friend Beaver, Leo begins to forge his own unlikely path to adulthood. From helping spearhead the construction of a neighborhood skatepark to teaching his own after-school skateboarding class at the local high school, Leo discovers ways to transform a youthful passion into a productive future. But with each step forward, it seems a past he can’t quite escape tries to drag him and his family down.

After inspiring audiences at film festivals internationally—beginning with its world premiere at the 2021 San Francisco Documentary Festival to, most recently, winning Best Feature at Wisconsin’s Big Water Film Festival this past March—the film is now returning home for a theatrical screening and celebration 13 years in the making. Cast and crew will be in attendance and there will be a panel discussion afterwards moderated by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio criminal justice reporter Patrick Smith.

Cast and Crew will be in attendance for a post-film panel discussion, which will include Chicago skateboard legend Stevie Dread Snyder and will be moderated by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio criminal justice reporter Patrick Smith.

The Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave
June 4, 2022 at 4:15pm.
Q&A to follow

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest film, TV, advertising, entertainment and production news! Sign up for our free elert here.