quarta-feira, outubro 19, 2005
Spicoli Is Dead
Inside Andrew Kidman's New Surf Film Glass Love
by Ethan Stewart
For too long surfers have struggled to explain themselves to the non-surfing public, oftentimes losing their message in a swirl of "dude," funny hand gestures, and tired metaphors. To the non-surfing masses, surfing is a sport. Period. And any verbal attempts to break down this misconception and replace it with a more holistic understanding of surfing usually crashes and burns in an ugly wreck of corniness. But the fact remains that, for those individuals who choose to live their lives connected to the ocean, surfing transcends sport and is a very real and personal expression of spirituality.
As 1966 world champion of surfing Nat Young put it, "I wish that when they asked us, 'What is surfing?' I would have said it's a spiritual activity, and not just a sport, because that's what put us on the wrong track." In a post-Point Break reality, where surfing helps sell credit cards, cell phones, and SUVs, a new film from a young Australian surfer is making serious moves in the right direction.
Andrew Kidman is an artist. He plays guitar; writes songs, poems, and books; records albums; takes photos; paints; draws; and, as if all that weren't enough, he makes absolutely beautiful surf films. His first film, Litmus, is an underground classic among surfers everywhere. As raw and emotional as the ocean itself, it showcases surfing purely for surfing's sake. And now, more than seven years since Litmus, the Australian native has given us Glass Love, a film of equal emotion and stunning beauty.
This movie, which could hold its own in an art house as well as it does a surf shop, is an exploration of waves and surfboards of all shapes and sizes and the people who ride them. But beyond this - or perhaps because of this - it is also a film about family, culture, and what it means to be a surfer.
Kidman explains, "In the film I wanted to feature the generational link and love of surfing that gets passed down through families, in particular through the Curren and Purchase families. The sons are surfers and their fathers are surfer/shapers. It was nice to peek in on a small part of their relationships and how surfing makes them special."
The Curren clan provides one of the more memorable sections of the film, when father Pat, a big-wave surfing legend and esteemed surfboard craftsman, makes a board for his two sons, four-time world champion Tom and his younger brother Joe, both of whom call Santa Barbara home. The "generational link" is a thing of beauty as you watch Joe and Tom surf the board, followed by vintage footage of the elder Curren surfing Hawaii several decades ago. And then the Purchases, Neil Sr. and Neil Jr., offer up an Australian variation on the family theme, with intimate interviews and Neil Jr.'s otherworldly backside tube-riding skill at Kirra, Down Under.
The film goes beyond father-son family fun as it also includes the world-class surfing of Aussie charger Garth Dickenson, surfer/artist Ozzie Wright, the legendary Skip Frye, the enigmatic Derek Hynd, and many others. Also, like Litmus before it, the film has a wicked psychedelic and heavy animation section by Mark Sutherland. All in all, Glass Love is good - damn good - and in some ways, as only a truly special work of art can, the film explains away the stereotypes and reminds surfers and non-surfers alike about what it means to be alive.
Currently, Andrew, his partner Michelle, and their young daughter Bella are couch-surfing their way up the coast of California, relying on the kindness of friends to show Glass Love in theaters big and small. They will be in town next Thursday, May 12, with two showings at Santa Barbara Junior High's Marjorie Luke Theatre starting at 7 p.m. The evening includes an acoustic set of music by Andrew and Tommy Curren. If you surf or love someone who does, Glass Love is an hour of melodious, color-soaked, pure, and meaningful art that cannot be missed.