Friday, May 28, 2010

Keep Surfing (2009)

Let me over sell this right at the start:


That of course means nothing since its a matter of personal taste, but damn this movie made my mouth hang open and murmur "wow" repeatedly.

The film is about river surfing, nominally in Germany, but its a sport that's going on elsewhere (We see some surfing in Canada). The idea is that on rivers there are places where, because of underwater objects, water level and other things that create a sort of permanent wave that a surfer can ride for as long as the like. You don't travel anywhere, you just ride the wave.

I can't do this film justice. this is the sort of film you really need to see to appreciate. That may sound like a cope out, but when you see the images that are in this film you'll be left just as speechless as me.

Bjoern Richie Lob, the director is a surfer who has been filming his friends surfing for several years. When he did a rough cut of the footage he was given a large grant to shoot the film the way he wanted. He was helped by the fact he managed to parley his love of surfing into a job working for European television on their coverage of surfing. The result was he was able to bring in expert camera men, cranes and lights and really shoot the surfers the way most sports filmmakers could always dream about filming their sport.

Lob talked to the founders of the sport, to the regular people who surf the canals, the the cranky old guy who figured out how to modify one canal so they could surf all year round, to the ocean surfers who came to try their hand and to the people in the street (literally) who stop to watch the crazy people surfing in all weather and with and without clothing. Thanks to Lob being a hell of a nice guy He got everyone to open up. Its not really surprising, he stood next to me for much of the Tribeca screening I attended and was a blast to interact with. Actually his Q&A after the film was one of the highlights of the festival (I liked that he gave a prize for the best question asked).

I saw six documentaries at Tribeca and this was the only one that NEEDS to be seen on a big screen. The way this film has been shot puts you there with the surfers and the spectators and the best way to truly appreciate this is see it on as big a screen as possible. I really do hope that this film not only gets a wide theatrical release around the world but also gets to be seen by more than just surfer dudes and dudettes. Trust me this is a movie and a sport for everyone.

Currently on the festival circuit, I'm not sure what the release plans are for it after that.

Trust me you want to see this. Rarely have I seen such a great audience reaction to a film, not only at the film festival where the audience actually seemed to be one with the film but in general. (Another indicator, almost no one left before the Q&A was over, everyone pretty much stayed put. That was unheard of at the Tribeca screenings I saw since at most films seemed to have much of the audience bolt)

One of the best film going experiences of 2010.

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