Surfs Up: London Surf Film Festival
As written for Londonist
Now in its third year, the London Surf Film Festival is set to showcase ‘surf filmmaking’ in both narrative and documentary formats, proving once again surfers are not just dudes that ride waves. London’s version of a water-based hub, Riverside Studios, will play host to over a dozen premieres from 31 October – 3 November, highlighting things have definitely moved on since Gidget and taken perhaps a closer step to the iconic likes of The Endless Summer.
Thanks to increasingly more affordable video cameras and indie rockers such as Jack Johnson and Alexi Murdoch, surf and film are now seen as a viable, theatrical combination. No longer are the flicks inclusive of sing-along show-tunes (Frankie Avalon inBeach Blanket Bingo springs to mind) nor solely a two-hour stream of super cool wave-riding sequences; but instead human stories offering alternative views on life in and around the surf scene.
Jason Baffa kicks off the festival with his 35mm-shot Bella Vita, chronicling surfer turned artist/environmentalist Chris Del Moro’s exploration into the rise of surf culture in one of the Mediterranean’s oldest civilisations. American director Rocky Romano follows on with his gritty documentary Learning to Breathe based around surf legend Anthony Ruffo, whose life outside the water was riddled with drugs and addiction.
Hovering more closely to the travel genre of film-making, Friday sees Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson in This Time Tomorrow chasing a single storm cell across the Pacific Rim in efforts to partake in every surfer’s dream – riding the same wave twice. The weekend follows suit bringing Emmy award-winning Cyrus Sutton’s Compassing, a journey through Mexico with surfing stalwarts Rob Machado and Kepa Acero (who are both around for a Q+A); UK-based Mark Waters’s sensory-overloaded The Salt Trail taking the audience on a voyage through the Indian Ocean; Jeremy Rumas’s European premiere Hangs Upon Nothing, an ode to Indonesia with accompanying music from Turbo-fire to Zenith; and San Diego Surf Film Festival winner The Heart and the Sea that captures the essence of a surfer’s life: friends, family and the sea.
It’s not surprising many of the films take an intensive look into travel and the many oceans that act as homes to the ‘riding giants’ – expect aesthetically daring cinematography shot on a range of lo-fi equipment and deep, earnest looks into what drives these passionate souls. Surf and film may still be a burgeoning field, but London Surf Film Festival is a reminder the cross-over is producing some rather impressive celluloid gems.
Also worth checking out: Surf Cinema Re-vision features contemporary artists’ re-interpretation of classic surf film posters and Celtic Connections will present how boards are shaped, both events to take place free of charge inside the Approaching Lines Room.
London Surf Film Festival is running from Thursday 31 October – Sunday 3 November at Riverside Studios. Tickets for screenings are priced from £7.50 each or evening passes are available for £16 including a complimentary copy of the book Cold Water Souls and a beer courtesy of Skinners Brewery. Tickets can be purchased via Riverside Studios’ box-office.