Few things bring people together more than sports. People who live on opposite sides of the globe, speak different languages or work in unrelated professions all experience the shared joy of landing a skateboarding trick that they were afraid they couldn’t pull off. Humanity Stoked, a documentary produced and directed by Michael Ien Cohen, uses the ubiquitous sport of skateboarding as a lens through which to examine issues facing society. Cohen, a skateboarder himself, conceived the idea for the film after working through an excruciating period of depression which drove him to live a fear-based life. “I decided that if I come out of that period then I’m not going to let fear guide my hand anymore and I’m going to start living,” says Cohen. “I wanted to be a filmmaker, I wanted to be a humanitarian and I’m a lifelong skateboarder,” he adds, “and I thought that I could make a film that combines those things.”  While Cohen intended for the narrative of the film to focus on skateboarding-related charities around the world, a tragedy that occurred in the skateboarding world before filming reshaped his vision. “I saw the potential of the film differently in terms of having it connect with people and tell these emotional stories that have to do with issues that affect all of us,” he says. Such problems include anything from drugs and addiction to the environment to racism, among a myriad of others. Everyone featured in the documentary faces obstacles, but they all share a love of skateboarding. The sport opens a portal that invites young viewers to examine these issues from a different perspective. “Skateboarding makes the film appealing to such an important demographic around the world of young people who want to be inspired, who want to be creative and brings them to a table that not all of them would want to sit down at and see a film about this issue or that issue,” he adds. “I’m grateful that skateboarding happens to be on fire, and it makes the film interesting to so many people.” Artist Chris Dyer, who appears as a subject in the film, is happy to be part of a project that inspires positive change among future generations. “Michael’s movie is like a giant net where he’s going to catch a lot of fish, but fish are not going to enter a net with no bait,” Dyer says. “Skateboarding is a beautiful, enticing bait.”