SBIFF ’09: Surf Movies and More

Extreme Sports Films Get To the Maxxx Treatment, Thanks to Russ Spencer

<em>The Waterman</em>

Always a honey hole of a few good surfing movies, 2009’s To the Maxxx lineup-SBIFF’s annual ode to all things extreme-is, in the words of programmer Russ Spencer, “The year of the surf film.” All told, nine of the 12 films in the category are dedicated to this Sport of Kings.

The Ojai-born, Lompoc-lurking Malloy brothers are all over this year’s lineup with oldest brother Chris’s latest film project, One Track Mind, an action-packed, interview-heavy look at the inner workings of today’s brightest surf stars. Showing Sunday, January 25, at the Arlington, it’s twin-billed with Laird Hamilton’s recently released The Waterman, a slickly produced exploration of the many, and mostly death-defying, ways in which we can ride waves, directed by Jeff Hornbaker.

Other surf films include the biopic documentary Archy, an unflinching look at one of surfing’s most talented bad boys, Matt Archbold. Also, Santa Barbara’s Peck Euwer debuts his latest release, The Women and the Waves, which takes a unique look at the lives of several lady wave hunters, some of them local, as they seek to balance much-needed ocean time with the requirements of their respective land lives. Rounding out the surf-specific films is a documentary about surfing in Cuba called Havana Surf and pro surfer Benji Weatherley’s version of an extended reality TV show, Life as a Movie, where he travels the world with the likes of Kelly Slater, Jack Johnson, Shane Dorian, Tony Hawk, and Todd Richards, with the sole purpose of having surfers snowboard, skateboarders surf, and everyone laugh.

Last but not least of the surf movies is the North America premiere of Irishman Joel Conroy’s Waveriders. A genre-bending cinematic poem to the incredibly diverse culture that is Irish surfing, this movie is, without a doubt, the best film in the To the Maxx category. Somewhat akin to last year’s smash hit Bustin’ Down the Door, Waveriders balances the insight of a world-class documentary with action-packed surf footage, both contemporary and historic, from the land of Guinness. Further, when it premieres at the Arlington on January 28, not only will the filmmaker be in attendance but he will be joined by such stars of the movie as the Malloys, Kelly Slater, and Lauren Davies. Not only will this movie inspire and educate, it will probably get you considering a surf trip to the chilly north Atlantic.

Decidedly less salt water-soaked films in the category include Lance Trumbull’s moving and visually captivating documentary Everest: A Climb for Peace; a high-speed, white-knuckled race car movie called Truth in 24; and, of course, Santa Barbara resident Erik Hatch and his annual Skateboard Stories installation.


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