2003 Festival – The 10th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival

STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR Helen Stickler Documentary 35mm 80:00 2003 “A pungent study of fads, trends and the way everything once genuine ends up being homogenized and exploited beyond recognition by corporate America”  – Scott Foundas, Variety “STOKED works as a fable about the dangers of celebrity and the hazards of success. Behind Gator’s sad tabloid tale are the puzzles and the contradictions that perpetually bedevil American youth culture.”  – A.O. Scott, The New York Times “An unforgettable tale from the underground that will appeal to all.”  – Trevor Groth, Sundance Film Festival The Chicago Underground Film Festival is proud to present the Chicago premiere of Helen Stickler’s documentary STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR. Six years in the making, Stoked charts the rise of skateboarding culture in the eighties using the life of the era’s most celebrated skater Mark “Gator” Rogowski as a point-of-entry. Gator’s sexy good looks and bad boy attitude fueled his rise from local skate park hero to international superstar as big business moved in and turned skateboarding into a national passion with Gator as its pin-up boy. At 18 he was the spokesmodel for Vision Street Wear and the star of the world’s top-selling skateboarding video with an annual income topping $100,000. By the end of the decade however, trends had changed within the quickly expanding industry and Gator’s popularity began to wane. With little in the way of support from the industry that raised him, Gator’s rage grew until the fateful night on which he murdered a young woman. He is now serving 31 years to life in prison for the crime. Director Helen Stickler, whose past films include the award winning shorts QUEEN MERCY (CUFF ‘94) and ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE (CUFF ‘95), employs a propulsive MTV-influenced style mixing jaw-dropping skateboarding footage, neon Jams, high-top sneakers and ‘in-your-face’ 80’s youth culture along with interviews with all the key players, including Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain and Steve Caballero. Stoked manages to recreate the era with great energy and feeling, presenting an intimate, but never exploitative, character study of fame gone sour for one charismatic but deeply troubled star. STOKED was a recipient of the Chicago Underground Film Fund. Palm Pictures will release STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR on Friday, September 12th in Chicago at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinemas.