The film tells the story of Ali’s rise and fall as well as his path toward possible redemption. Archival material shot on a variety of formats chronicling Ali’s years as a professional skater forms the basis of the film. This material introduces viewers unfamiliar with Ali and his legacy to the world of his past and to the central figures in his life during that time. The feel of the film follows the punk ethos of the skater community by combining these collections of disparate scenes from multiple time periods, disparate audio-visual formats, disparate voices and points of view. Through the liveliness of this archival material, we get a vivid picture of what it was like for Ali to live a life without limits, and as such, we come to understand the profoundness of his loss.
Throughout his skateboarding career, Ali stood in front of a camera. For almost 15 years, he was filmed on and off his skateboard by photographers trained in shooting the skate scene. The clear rapport between them and Ali transforms the material from mere documentation into a lively exchange between friends. As the subject of this documentary, Ali reacts to cameras in a similar way as in his youth.
Slowly, a person full of contradictions emerges: a contemplative, soft-spoken man with a wild past; a destructive perfectionist; a prisoner in an Australian jail who wrote letter after letter to Shane’s parents but never sent them.