Minding the Gap: What It’s About

Essays

Jan 12, 2021

<i>Minding the Gap:</i> What It’s About

Minding the Gap: What It’s About

Essays

Jan 12, 2021

In the course of selling or promoting a film, a director will invariably be asked, “What’s this movie really about?” The desired answer is usually predetermined—marketers want a concise, two-sentence hook; reporters want a sound bite; critics want a thesis to grapple with. For Bing Liu’s extraordinary 2018 documentary Minding the Gap, the answer was never going to be particularly straightforward. That wasn’t due to any fault of Liu’s vision for the film that he shot and produced over several years but rather to its complexity, and to the insistence of critics and audiences on sorting films into neat categories. This is especially the case when it comes to documentaries, which carry the additional expectations that they clearly lay out what they’re about and that that subject matter be something momentous. The recent explosion in nonfiction filmmaking has only increased the pressure to achieve social importance.

Liu (center) with Minding the Gap subjects Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan

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