Independent filmmaker, and skateboarding enthusiast, Arthur Swidzinski, brings us the most unconventional road trip we’ll ever see in the documentary, Shred America.
Taking place in 2008, the film documents the 30-plus day, road trip of four twenty-year-old friends Arthur, Michael, James, and Anthony as they embark on a dangerous journey to travel from Chicago to New York … on skateboards and bicycles.
With no clear plan the four friends get quite a lot of positive and negative media attention. Using the Fly-on-the-Wall approach, director Arthur Swidzinski guides the audience every step of the way where these guys endure bad weather, water / food shortage, injuries, and the authorities.
There are many entertaining moments displaying the funny, relationship the guys share with each other including a moment where they have to wash their dirty clothes in a bathtub because the washing machine ate their quarters.
The issues with film lie with how the subjects were handled. Within 40-minutes of the hour and a half runtime the viewer is not given any clear goals or backstory on any of the friends. Why are they doing this? What’s their home life like? What struggles in life pushed them to do this? Are they seeking fame? How did their love of skateboarding come to be? Unfortunately these are questions that are never answered and this dilutes the impact of their actions.
My favorite moment is when the guys arrive at Love Park, a plaza located in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is considered the “Skateboard Mecca” of the United States. The sequence gives the viewer a little bit of emotion from Anthony and a bit of backstory on the park itself, which was very refreshing, but cut too short.
I went into my first viewing of Shred America, completely intrigued by the premise. The concept and story are great, but the way the subject matter was compiled was not. With the footage used, this could have been an extremely effective “short” 30-45-minute documentary.
That being said, these four friends have made an amazing and unique accomplishment that audiences have never seen before. Shred America is definitely worth a look.
My Grade: B-
“Shred America” will Premiere in Chicago March 24th, 2018 at Patio Theater. Tickets on sale online or at the box office. PLEASE go out and support these local filmmakers by purchasing tickets here..