“Virgin Blacktop” Skates Closer to Home!

Award-Winning Film Chosen For Prime Screening at 2019 Adirondack Film Festival

GLENS FALLS – Saratoga Springs resident, and skateboard advocate Charlie Samuels has been garnering worldwide accolades (and hardware) for a retrospective documentary titled “Virgin Blacktop: A New York Skate Odyssey.” “Virgin” has garnered “Best of” and “audience choice” awards at film festivals are far-flung as Florida and France, from California to Connecticut, as well as several festivals in New York State.

But now, this film is coming closer to home than ever, as “Virgin Blacktop” was selected for a prime position and location during the upcoming Adirondack Film Festival (October 18-20).

The film will be screened at the prestigious Charles R. Wood Theater at 3 pm, on Saturday, October 19. The festival’s website is https://www.adkfilmfestival.org – where you can view schedules and ticket packages, as well as summaries about the 140+ films that will be screened over the 4-day festival.

The documentary is an uplifting and sometimes heart-breaking coming-of-age story about a super funky crew of suburban New York City kids (Hudson Valley.) When they met in 1977, they had nothing in common except a passion for skateboarding. “This was before the Internet,” Charlie says, “We didn’t know from the X-games, or anything outside our world. We thought we were unique, but based on the response, its obvious that we have hit upon something that resonates with many.”

Despite their vastly different ages, races and economic backgrounds and with their parents’ hands off approach, they formed a competitive, traveling team of spirited skateboarding outsiders called the “Wizards”. Now, nearly 40 years later, they remain friends but their lives have followed very different paths, from board rooms to jail cells.

Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite:

Charlie, a professional photographer, has spent 24 years hunting down Super 8 footage in dusty attics, re-formatting and editing, taking time out to get married (“skateboarding on my hands down the aisle, of course”) and traveling the country, catching up and interviewing his Wizard compatriots. One scene was shot locally (the introduction on the trailer shows Charlie in his Regent Street studio, and some transition shots were done on Spring Street.)

Though his film has received standing ovations from San Luis Obisbo to Spain, it should be a day with emotional, special meaning for Charlie Samuels on October 19, when “Virgin Blacktop” is screened before an audience in his adopted hometown region.

Back when we met after the holidays, we talked about local possibilities: “I can’t wait to bring it home!” Charlie said. “It will make a nice ending to this saga.”

Except, now that it is coming to be a reality, I don’t think it will be an ending at all. A big milestone for sure, but I’m feeling that there’s much more to come with “Virgin Blacktop”: There’s plenty of life in that old skateboard yet!

Arthur Gonick – September 14, 2019

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