Before Washington Square Park became the default campus green at NYU, it was one of those fabled meeting spots for young New Yorkers of all backgrounds to hang out and explore their mortality through skating, drugs and friendship. That storied era of pre-gentrification Manhattan was at the center of “Kids,” the Larry Clark film that generated tremendous controversy upon its release 20 years ago. Featuring numerous child and young adult actors who Clark and writer Harmony Korine (“Spring Breakers”) met while hanging out in Washington Square Park, the film offered a stark portrayal of skateboarding and youth culture in New York City at the peak of the AIDS epidemic.
Its hyper-realistic depictions of violence, sex, and drugs (all by underage actors, most of whom were New York natives) made it a success upon its debut and helped launch the careers of Rosario Dawson and Chloë Sevigny. At the same time, the film seemed to curse its more idiosyncratic stars, with Justin Pierce, Sajan Bhagat and pro-skater Harold Hunter all dying under tragic circumstances, casualties of a mix of fame and the structural issues that birthed the chaotic and sensational youth skate culture that nurtured these stars.
In any case, the film’s legend lives on 20 years after its worldwide debut on July 28th, 1995. Check out the trailer below.