The documentary “12 O’Clock Boys” is centered on the subculture of Baltimore’s urban dirt bikers who ride through the streets popping wheelies and pulling other stunts, much to the chagrin of the police.
Lofty Nathan’s film is filled with loving images of these cyclists making their way across the city, but the movie’s interest really lies elsewhere.
Nathan’s real focus is the story of a 13-year-old named Pug, who lives on the city’s blighted Westside, dreams of becoming a veterinarian and very much wants to be accepted as a 12 O’Clock Boy.
The filmmaker follows Pug in a case study exploring an impressionable young man at a key turning point. In just 76 minutes, in its deceptively low-key fashion, the movie effectively epitomizes a struggle that in many ways defines the future of this nation — with Pug torn between the lure of the streets and the promise of education.
At the same time, this slice-of-life effort presents a complicated picture when it comes to the world of urban dirt biking, acknowledging the dangers involved while celebrating its utility as an outlet for the pent-up emotions of a people left behind by society.
Documentary by Lofty Nathan
Playing at Angelika and AMC Empire