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Today at the Chicago International Film Festival: ‘United Skates’

"United Skates"

‘United Skates’ (U.S.)

6:15 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois. 

Co-directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown document the African-American rollerskating scene with loving insight. “For many black people being on four wheels is like black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Eve,” testifies journalist Maulud Allah. Old-timers recall picketing against segregated rinks. Klansmen even counter-picketed. “Adult Skate” is the acknowledged code for black nights at rinks. This is a recreational subculture where hip-hop artists like Queen Latifah found their first venues. Los Angeles gangs declared a truce in a neutral skate zone. A gliding camera showcases a dazzling array of styles found in 50 locations around the country. A map of lights blinking out reveals the decline of rinks over the decades, but later a montage reveals an explosion in national skater gatherings in Chicago and other cities. The Saturday screening will be followed by an after-party at The Rink!, 1122 E. 87th St. For more details from the festival, go to chicagofilmfestival.com.