As a kid I had the kind of roller skates that neatly fitted over your shoes. It was like being given the gift of movement, no longer did I walk, I glided. I didn’t turn corners at right angles, I danced and whirled around them. It was a sad day when they’d been adjusted as far as they could go and no longer fitted me, and the hobby had to be relinquished to my childhood. But for a small group in San Francisco roller skating is a part of their daily life and it’s the focus of Daniel Soares’ film Totally Free.
In the video Dan spends time with a handful of roller skating enthusiasts and asks them why it’s so important to them. The different reasons people started are incredibly varied; one man attributes it to a comic book he read, another saw a picture of OJ Simpson wearing them in a magazine and thought he looked cool. Whatever the reasons, the fascinating thing is how they each express the same feeling of joy when skating. There’s a beautiful consensus of bliss, freedom and weightlessness between them all and it’s wonderful to watch.
It’s more than a hobby to this small community, their skates have become portable sanctuaries on wheels they can escape to and dream. A beautiful sense of movement is conveyed throughout the film, with shots of the skaters performing their own personal routines, interspersed with accounts of their experiences. They’re eccentric and a little odd but these people are genuine and real, and it’s lovely how Daniel has captured the authenticity so gracefully.