Wavescapes Surf Film Festival
posted by Pierre Marqua on 24th November 2004
CAPE TOWN - Remember Saturday matinees when Gidget, Free Ride, Crystal Voyager and other crackling 16mm surf films flickered on the wall of the local scout hall and back of the corner cafe?
The 2004 Wavescapes Surf Film Festival in Cape Town, presented by First National Bank, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Showing at the Labia Cinema on Orange Street (R25), Brass Bell seaside bar (R10) and Clifton Fourth Beach (free) between 10 and 18 December, the festival marks a return to the "Endless Summer" big screen surf era, but with a modern twist.
The "big screen" is a pioneering piece of cinematic technology - a three-storey inflatable 'Fat Screen' erected outdoors, and sustained by a silent fan. The screen is suited to sheltered beaches - a mobile drive-in without the driving in. The Fat Screen was made in South Africa for the event, and follows the success of similar screens around the world. Visitors to Sydney might remember the thrill of watching films on a screen floating in the ocean beneath the stars in Sydney Harbour.
Organised by surfing portal wavescape.co.za, the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival will screen international hits such as Riding Giants, a sellout at the recent Encounters Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town. Wavecapes hosts the national premiere of Step Into Liquid, which broke records at the US box office last year. This feature-length documentary is made by Dana, son of Bruce Brown who made Endless Summer in 1966. Step Into Liquid screens between 11 and 16 December at the Labia, where Endless Summer showed to packed houses in the late 60s.
Brett Erasmus, Head of Segment Marketing at First National Bank, said their association with the festival tied in neatly with their involvement in surfing through the Billabong Junior Series. "Financial education of our youth is vital and our involvement in the Junior series is thus twofold. The other aspect is development of young talent and is for this reason that we are sending the top 6 boys and top girl over to Australia to compete in various surf events."
The festival will also premiere another important film - the new Jack McCoy film Blue Horizon by surf label Billabong. Blue Horizon recently won the award for the best Reportage Documentary at the prestigious Sports Movies and Television International Festival in Milan, Italy. The festival, organised by the Olympics Sports Committe, is regarded as the most important international festival dedicated to sports television and movies.
According to Steve Pike, known as Spike through the popular Wavescape Surf and Weather Report, the festival celebrates the 'Surf-Afrikan' beach culture, and gives South Africans a chance to see top international and local surf films on the big screen again. 'It's sad that those sepia days of big screen surf films died out, pushed aside by the rise of a mass media cult of video and then DVD. Ironically, this has worked in our favour, because DVD technology makes screening a lot easier.'
The concept for the festival (www.wavescapes.co.za
) follows the popular revival of big screen surf films around the world, sparked by feature-length documentaries like Dog Town and Z Boys, Riding Giants and Step Into Liquid.
The lineup at the Wavescapes festival is a mixture of the eclectic, the soulful, and the ultra modern, high-performance digital era. Even bodyboarders are catered for – in Southern Most Hope and the radical Chilean film Verde Roca, featuring standups and ‘doormats’. Skate documentary Hallowed Ground, produced by Poor Specimen and winner of the ESPN Action Sports Video of the Year, offers an evocative glimpse into skateboarding culture
Some of the films, such as Thicker Than Water – by The Moonshine Conspiracy – and Crystal Voyager, have been shot entirely on 16mm film. Crystal Voyager, made in 1974, is a psychedelic Aussie classic that sparked a cult following. Filmmaker George Greenough filmed while he was surfing, using an innovative over-the-shoulder camera. At the time, it was groundbreaking. A climactic 23 minute montage puts the viewer INSIDE the waves in a sensory simulation of endless walling tubes set to the Pink Floyd masterpiece, Echoes.
Taking Back the Waves is the story of Rastafarian surfer Cass Collier and his family. Nic Hofmeyer's film shows how Collier and friend Ian Armstrong went on to win a world title for South Africa at the 1999 World Big Wave Championships in Todos Santos, Mexico. This socio-political documentary is a fascinatingly fresh glimpse into the surfing subculture of South Africa.
The beautifully shot and edited Single Fin, Yellow, (Best Editing, X-Dance 2004), is the story of a custom-shaped 60s longboard shipped around the world to six elite longboarders. The film tracks the board's journey from California to Hawaii, and then on to Australia, Mexico and Japan, exploring each surfer's life, culture and community.
The short Pororoca – an awarding winning short film - follows four top surfers who tame the four metre tidal wave Pororoca ('monster' in South American Indian dialect) that rushes up the Amazon during certain spring tides. One rider manages to surf it for an unbelievable 37 minutes, covering 12kms!
Spike says that the festival will become an annual, national event that showcases the best international and local surf films. A roadshow up the East Coast is planned for 2005. And even if you are not a surfer, organisers are confident that this festival has something for all adrenaline or adventure-inclined South Africans.
THE FILMS, VENUES AND TIMES
Excellent, evocative feature-length documentary of big wave surfing by Dog Town and Z Boys director Stacey Peralta. It opened the Sundance Film Festival and was personally vetted by Robert Redford. Hailed as the best surfing movie since Endless Summer.
Labia, Fri 10 Dec (7.30pm), Sat 11 (10pm), Sun 12 (7pm), Wed 15 (9.30pm)
Step Into Liquid
A feature-length documentary by Dana Brown that explores the 40-year history of modern surfing, tracking its growth from underground pop culture to multi-billion dollar dynasty. A box office hit in the US in 2003.
Labia, Fri 10 Dec (9.30pm), Mon 13 (7pm), Fri 17 Dec (7.30pm); Brass Bell, Wed 15 Dec 8.30pm, Clifton 4th, Sat 18 Dec 8.30pm
This epic Billabong documentary by top filmmaker Jack McCoy contrasts competitive surfing and soulful free surfing. The two sides of the coin are triple world champion Andy Irons and free surfing guru Dave Rastovich. Not just any surf film - includes beautifully edited footage and classic historical sequences.
Labia, Mon 13 Dec (9.30pm), Thur 16 (7pm); Brass Bell, Fri 17 8.30pm
Single Fin, Yellow
Award winning documentary (Best Editing at X-Dance Festival) about a yellow longboard that travels the world from surfer to surfer. Smooth and languid, just like longboard surfing.
Labia, Fri 10 Dec (5pm), Sat 11 (7.30pm), Tues 14 Dec (7.30pm)
The world's best surfers jump off the treadmill, and leave the laptops, phones and TV behind in a remote farmhouse in Australia. Musician Ben Harper visits the surfers. Plenty of soul, and classic roots music.
Labia, Sun 12 Dec (5pm), Tues 14 Dec (5pm), Thurs 16 Dec (9.30pm)
The cult classic shot by George Greenough in 1974. He pioneered an over-the-shoulder camera view of surfing that gives the audience a unique perspective from INSIDE the tubing wave. The 23 minute sequence, set to the Pink Floyd classic Echoes, is nothing short of breathtaking.
Labia, Sat 11 Dec (5pm), Sun 12 Dec (9pm), Tues 14 Dec (9.30pm)
The sheer perfection of the Mentawai Islands off Indonesia, where the waves break with cylindrical, mechanical precision, is done justice by this flowing surf film that pulsates with the rhythm of nature and the jazz rifts of Jack Johnson.
Labia, Fri 10 Dec (5pm), Tues 14 (7.30pm), Wed 15 (7pm), Fri 17 (7.30pm)
The roots of SA surf film making, straight from the kelp beds of the Cape. Check out blazing performances by rocket ripper Kelly Slater at Jeffreys Bay, huge wave surfing at Dungeons, slide show of Fleeting Moments, Cape Town waves will force you to re-evaluate your day job. Set to some of SA's best underground bands.
Labia, Sat 11 Dec (5pm), Tues 14 Dec (9.30pm), Thurs 16 Dec (7pm)
Taking Back the Waves
Nic Hofmeyer's flick about the socio-political context of surfing SA through the career of Cass Collier and his mom and dad, Ahmed and Fawzia. Includes Dungeons footage, classic old 16mm images from the 70s and 80s and how Cass and his friend Ian Armstrong got chosen to represent SA at the World Big Wave Championships in Todos Santos, Mexico.
Labia, Tues 14 Dec (5pm), Thurs 16 Dec (5pm)
Won Best Film at the 2004 X-Dance Festival. The Ride is a groundbreaking documentary in the proliferating extreme sports genre. Includes never-before-seen footage from the huge swell of November 2002 where Pe'ahi (Jaws) totalled five jetskis and injured a dozen people. Insane footage of tow-in riders slicing up 50-60' faces.
Labia, Wed 15 Dec (7pm); Brass Bell, Thurs 16 Dec (8.30pm)
Fountain of Youth
SA's best competitive surfers fly to Indonesia, where they rip apart the perfect waves. A mixture of 16mm and digital, this film is an excellent local surf film, evocative and moody, with some awesome surf footage and top local music.
Labia, Sun 12 Dec (9pm), Mon 13 Dec (9.30pm), Wed 15 Dec (5pm)
Surfing the Amazon! A group of surfers tackle the Pororoca tidal wave that sweeps up the Amazon. Some of the sequences are mindblowing.
Labia, Fri 10 Dec (9.30pm), Mon 13 Dec (5pm), Mon 13 Dec (7pm), Thurs 16 Dec (5pm); Brass Bell, Fri 17 Dec (8.30pm)
Thicker than Water
Pro surfers, including Kelly Slater and Rob Machado, search for the soul of surfing on perfect waves around the world. Joachim Cooder - from Grammy winning documentary Buena Vista Social Club - put together the all-original score. The title suggests that the bond between members of the surfing tribe is greater than the act of surfing itself.
Labia, Sat 11 Dec (7.30pm), Mon 13 Dec (5pm), Wed 15 Dec (5pm)
Award winning skate punk documentary set on a journey of pro skaters who travel back to their urban roots. Mindblowing skating and redhot soundtrack.
Labia, Sun 12 Dec (5pm), Fri 17 Dec (10pm)
Southern Most Hope
Rootsy South African film shot in Cape Town. This is believed to be the first bodyboarding film made in South Africa.
Brass Bell, Tue 14 Dec (8.30pm)
A bodyboarding and surfing film that shows Chile to have some of the heaviest and most perfect waves. It also suggests that Chileans have suicidal tendencies. Set to a classic soundtrack, from roots to house, from heavy metal to grungy gangsta rap (some not for the fainthearted or U16s). Some footage is breathtaking in its extremity.
Labia, Fri 17 Dec (10pm); Brass Bell, Thurs 16 Dec (8.30pm)