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'Skate or Die' film series at PHI Centre promises big air and surprise guests

There are four films left in the Skate or Die film series at the new and chic PHI Centre in Montreal’s Old Port. That means skateboard fans and adrenaline junkies everywhere have until only November 19 to kick back to shorts and full lengths of the world’s biggest longboarding competition and a lifetime skater who won’t quit (Highway Gospel – a HotDocs, Ottawa and Whistler Film Fest official selection, screening Oct. 25 at PHI); the new Spike Jonze and Ty Evans film (Pretty Sweet, Nov. 19); and Feel at Home (Oct. 26), a Quebec film about the international skateboarding community. 

“There wasn’t really anything going on with film and skateboarding,” says series programmer Danny Lennon. “But now the buzz [about our series] is out there. I’ve got lots of people in LA calling up: ‘Is there going to be a next year?’ We’re having so much fun we’re going to do it next year if the films are there.”

If you don’t know your ollies from your kickflips, fear not. Audiences are a mix of skaters and cinéphiles, says Lennon. The fourth film of the series, Heart Child (screening Nov. 1) is about a mom and skateboarding enthusiast, Chris Worthy. “She goes around the U.S. doing skateboard clinics to help people who have kids with autism. When these kids skateboard, their heads become clear and sometimes they finally have interaction with their parents. It’s pretty amazing stuff. The filmmaker’s going to be there, and Chris will be there. It’ll be an emotional night. So skateboarding is the excuse, but it’s more about relationships. All the films are just about people trying to get through life – finding a passion.”

Heart Child


So PHI, so fresh
And it’s about the space and the hip cachet. The new PHI Centre has only been showing films since July. With two theatres, live music, and visual art installations and performances, it’s covering its artistic bases. “PHI is unique. It’s very small – 85 seats. We usually do a film only once – that’s it. And you never know who’s going to be there. The second theatre is cabaret style – we have a bar inside. It’s different from Excentris and Scotiabank.”

And who doesn’t love hobnobbing with the best in the biz? “You never know who’s going to be there. I know people who came to the Bones Brigade premiere and were like, ‘Oh my God, I just saw Tony Hawk! Oh my God, Mike McGill and Berger are there!’ It’s the who’s who of skateboarding.”

If you can only see one film at the series, what does Lennon recommend? “The one that you might not get a chance to see after is Heart Child and since the director and Chris, the star of the film, are going to be there, it’s going to be an exceptional night. But Spike Jonze – he made a film a few years back called Yeah Right and it blew the roof off every theatre it played. It redefined skateboarding. Then the Quebec City gang – you’re going to have fun there. You’re going to meet people. And there are always surprises.”

Pretty Sweet

Not everything’s a surprise, though, like the fact that PHI is giving away 3 skateboards signed by members of the Bones Brigade at three of the upcoming screenings. And it’s good to know you can enjoy the film with a beer from the concession. Beer goes with popcorn, right?


Skate or Die film series
Highway Gospel—Oct. 25; Feel at Home—Oct. 26; Heart Child—Nov. 1; Pretty Sweet—Nov. 19
Centre PHI
407 St-Pierre | phi-centre.com