Harvard Graduate School of Design To Screen New Skateboarding Film
Deathbowl To Downtown: The Evolution of Skateboarding in New York City
Followed by Panel Discussion with Film Co-Directors
CAMBRIDGE, MA (October 3, 2008) –Renowned skateboarding documentary filmmakers Coan “Buddy” Nichols and Rick Charnoski will present their film, Deathbowl to Downtown: The Evolution of Skateboarding in New York City, at 6:30 pm on October 10 in Piper Auditorium at the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Gund Hall. Jerold Kayden, Co-Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, will introduce the filmmakers and moderate a discussion following the screening.
The feature-length film, which enjoyed a six-city tour this fall through the United States, tells the story of how New York City dramatically transformed the sport and art of skateboarding. From its origins in California’s surfing culture and early years of engagement with empty swimming pools, skateboarding changed in the face of New York’s hard-edged streetscape of plazas, ledges, and steps. New tricks and practices emerged out of a terrain adopted by East Coast skateboarders looking for their own version of the Californian dream.
The film features many of the notable skateboarders of the era, as well as experts knowledgeable about design and other aspects of the city. Professor Kayden, who appears briefly in the film, was approached by the filmmakers several years ago as they sought to learn more about how zoning laws adopted in 1961 created the urban landscape of plazas and other spaces. “You wouldn’t expect there to be a link between a Harvard academician and New York City skateboarders, but Professor Kayden and his scholarly book, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, shed light on how some of skateboarding’s most notable urban terrain came to be,” said the film’s co-director Buddy Nichols. “The story we tell in this film goes well beyond New York City, however. Skateboarders in Boston, Cambridge and other metropolitan areas have their own, similar stories waiting to be told.”
Professor Kayden is founder of the New York-based Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to maintain and improve New York City’s over 500 plazas, arcades, and other privately owned public spaces.
More details can be found on DeathbowltoDowntown.com.