0

Sport and violence against women is a very topical theme at the moment. Perhaps one film that lends insight into the world of professional sport is Stoked: The Rise and Fall Of Gator. There's almost a deja vu feel at the beginning of this documentary about the origins of skateboarding in the United States. We've seen a lot of it before in Dogtown and Z-Boys. It was a feral sport played out in the empty swimming pools of California which was embraced by kids who didn't want to play the more traditional sports of football or baseball, many of whom came from dysfunctional families. One of the stars of the early years of this combination of artistic expression and extreme sport was Mark Rogowski, known to the public as Gator. This documentary charts his rise and rise, and then his cataclysmic fall. Using interviews with his peers, former skateboarding champions, managers, agents, his former fiance? plus a heap of archival footage, as well as phone interviews with Gator from gaol, Stoked looks at a culture which propels young people into fame and fortune who lack the personal resources to deal with it. Mark Rogowski is a victim of his talent, of his hubris, and of the world that regarded him as merely a product. He had no back-up. And he went sadly wrong, destroying other lives in the process. This excellent documentary by Helen Stickler offers real clues into why young sportsmen can't cope. Stoked is an exemplary life on screen.