JDIFF 2012 Irish Cinema Review: Hill Street, Dublin Skateboarding Documentary with archive footage of Tony Hawk


"Hill Street"

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Irish: Hill Street

Sunday, 19th February, 6:45pm, Cineworld

Director JJ Rolfe and producer Dave Leahy put together the zero budget 46 minute long skateboarding documentary Hill Street in time for this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.  Featuring talking heads of well-known characters from the Dublin skateboarding scene plus some great achive footage, including the legendary Tony Hawk, it tells the story of how skateboarding in the city developed over the years.

It is an entertaining and witty account of a subculture, or ‘fad’ as Dublin City Council called it, that I knew little about. There is the Hill Street shop of Clive Rowan, the first professional skateboard shop opened up in a rough-around-the-edges area of Dublin 1.  A shop talked about in mythical terms amongst the children of a pre-internet time not yet old enough to travel there and see it for themselves, although some braved it.

The sense of a community of outsiders, the warmth and humour of those involved comes across in the film and was present at the completely sold-out screening with patrons greeting one another as they entered the auditorium for its world premiere.

The generosity of the community of skateboarders is evident through the impressive collection of archive footage sent into Rolfe and Leahy. In the days before everyone recorded live events on their phones instead of actually watching them, there is a clip of a long-haired Tony Hawk doing a 540 off of a tiny ramp in Dublin and some great everyday footage from both inside and outside Rowan’s shop.

In the Q&A Rolfe and Leahy explained that they had a lot of interest and support from the Irish Film Board, Broadcasters and the BAI, but no money was forthcoming. So they went and made it anyway. One hope they have is that they will get more funding to extend it to 80 minutes as they have a lot more archive footage, but for now they are thankful that Grainne Humphreys and JDIFF allowed them to present this version to a festival audience.

Gordon Gaffney

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