Review: Skate doc ‘Made in Venice” celebrates the house that Z-Boys built


If the 2001 documentary “Dog Town and Z-Boys” engagingly gave Southern California’s skateboard culture its influential due, then “Made in Venice” comes across as its scrappy, but no less lovable, kid brother.

While he profiles many of the boarders who also figured into the Stacy Peralta film, director Jonathan Penson’s main focus is on the creation of the oft-delayed, world-class Venice Skatepark — an endeavor that proved more challenging than a 1440 flip.

But first he provides a lively history of the place “where the debris meets the sea,” dating back to developer/conservationist Abbot Kinney, who unveiled his Venice of America in 1905.


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Cut to a century later, when the demolition of Venice Pavilion, the long-neglected recreation area known as “The Pit,” left beachside skaters with no permanent place to strut their stuff, setting the stage for a decade-long process that would turn a number of those original Z-Boys into social crusaders.

With a final push from former L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the $2.5-million Venice Skatepark officially opened for business on Oct. 3, 2009.

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Packing rare Super 8 and video footage into a compact 77 minutes, the film might overlap with what came before, but it’s also an affectionate tribute to legendary ’80s street skater Jesse Martinez, for whom the skatepark took on a deeply personal significance.

If Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Ray Flores are among the Z-Boy lords of Dogtown, then Martinez, who’d wake before dawn to voluntarily sandblast graffiti off its frequently vandalized walls, serves as its honorary mayor.



‘Made in Venice’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica