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There’s transcendence in skating – just ask the man they call ‘Slomo’

Having spent decades as a ‘typical, institutionalised, educated Western man’ – or, put simply, an ‘asshole’ – the US neurologist John Kitchin found himself to be financially secure but spiritually diminished. After learning that he was losing his eyesight, he emerged from a bout of hopelessness with the realisation that all he wanted to do was ‘the basic things, and skate’, and gave up his practice. Now a familiar face on San Diego’s Pacific Beach boardwalk, Kitchin – or Slomo, as he’s become known – is famed for his idiosyncratic, seemingly slow-motion style of inline skating that doubles as meditation.

The short documentary Slomo (2013) from the US filmmaker Josh Izenberg chronicles Kitchin’s transformation from a wealthy yet miserable doctor living in a mansion, to a beach bum with a studio apartment who finds transcendence in acceleration. A charming and light-hearted vision of what can happen when you actually do what you want to, Slomo won dozens of awards upon its release, including Best Short Documentary at the SXSW Film Festival. And, 10 years since the film made him a minor San Diego celebrity, Kitchin, who turned 80 this spring, still rarely misses a day on the boardwalk.

Director: Josh Izenberg

Producer: Amanda Micheli