Along with San Francisco and Barcelona, New York is arguably the modern street skating city, both in reality and image. Because of the unique background, experience and perspective of the film's creators and the decision to "cast" the city of New York as one of the main characters, Deathbowl to Downtown promises to be an unprecedented, seminal film.
Like Rick and Buddy's other work, Deathbowl to Downtown goes deeper than 'just' skating to combine documentary with an incisive and artful exploration of skateboarding and its culture. On one level it's about street skating, but also an anthropological overview of skating's epochal shift from the parks and pools of the 70's, to ramp skating in the 80's, to the street ascendancy of the 1990's as seen from a New York-centric perspective.
With interviews covering the oldest school originators to the newest school up steppers, comprehensive and much of it never-before-seen video footage, and present-day film shot by Nichols and Charnoski, 'Deathbowl to Downtown' addresses broader issues: How changes in urban planning and design affected skating (and vice versa), the unexpected late 20th century shift of cities from places normal citizens feared to tread, to tourist destinations, and the parallels between the modern history of American cities and skateboarding. That is, the way New York, and skateboarders, went from being ignored and reviled through 70's and 80's to being accepted and celebrated. An entertaining, eye opening, thought provoking take on why the action on New York's dirty, grimy, and hectic streets represents skateboarding to millions of skaters and non-skaters worldwide.