The Action Sports category of the San Sebastián Film Festival kicks off this weekend with the dual premieres of Andrew Kidman’s new joint, Spirit of Akasha, and the Italian surf travel log Bella Vita. While surfers like Stephanie Gilmore and Dave Rastovich rub shoulders with the acting A-listers, we at Huck are going to be scrutinising the films in hopes of finding a modern classic. Here’s what we look for in a surf flick.
The surfing of 5’5’’ 19 ¼
In 1997, while everyone was packing up their six foot, Kelly Slater-inspired boards for the North Shore winter, the ever mercurial Chris Ward asked his shaper Matt Biolos for a fish to take to Hawaii. The board he got, the eponymous 5’5’’ 19 1/4, and the clips he got surfing it broke the spell of the high-performance short board and cemented the reputations of both Ward and Biolos as game changers. More than a decade on, the surfing looks as fresh as it did the day the movie dropped. Check out the redux teaser for a taste of the goods.
The moodiness of Mickey Smith
No filmmaker in recent memory has captured dark and brooding landscapes with the verve of Mickey Smith and his favoured muse, Fergal Smith. The duo’s collaborations around Ireland in the past couple of years have made even sleet and gale-force winds look beautiful, proving that it’s not about what you shoot, it’s about how you shoot it.
The style of The Endless Summer
Before surfers were into skinny jeans, oversized headphones and ironic moustaches they wore their finest suits to travel. Robert August and Mike Hynson surf a lot of classic waves in the original Endless Summer, but equally memorable is how they look in between – perfectly cut suits, original wayfarer sunglasses, and immaculately pomaded hair. And don’t forget the board shorts. You can’t buy style like that, and today’s young guns would do well to take a page or two out of their books.
The enviro-love of Chris Malloy
Maybe it’s the influence of his sponsor, Patagonia, but every Chris Malloy movie feels like a love letter to the world, and a well written one at that. Between the travel epic of 180° South and his more recent grudge match against the oil industry, Groundswell, Malloy mixes the beauty of the ocean with the very real issues it is facing.
The cinematography of Taylor Steele
Steele has a gift for finding the most gorgeous parts of the world, and then evoking the hell out of them. The people are beautiful, the buildings ooze character, the water is always crystal clear, the colours explode like a Monet painting, and the clouds make the most wondrous of shapes. His wide-eyed optimism translated into moving pictures is something to behold.