NYSFF: a look back
We’ve been meaning to report on the New York Surf Film Festival for a while now. One thing led to another and well you get the idea… but, the festival was most certainly a huge success. Perhaps it’s best I do a quick blow by blow.
I arrived in New York on a Thursday morning with no sleep and a heavy head. It was clearly the beginning of a gonzo trip. I walked around Manhattan for a while before catching the L Train over to Brooklyn to peep my head in at Mollusk. Mike at Mollusk is one of the organizers of the festival. The shop felt like the center of the New York surf scene. For a lover of fine surf craft, Mollusk is the place to be. Mollusk also boasts an amazing selection of surf culture books. After Mollusk I headed deeper into Brooklyn to base camp with just one PBR stop along the way.
David arrived in New York later that night. The next morning we rose early and headed into the city. With lots of anticipation and sore feet from walking for hours we checked in at the media table in the lobby of the Tribeca Theatres. Founded in 2008 by Adam Cannizzaro, Tyler Breuer, Michael Machemer, and Morgan Rae Berk, the festival was intended to bring the New York surf community together to celebrate and enjoy the culture. From the beginning the festival was well organized and everything seemed in order and the place was buzzing. We drifted towards the bar and ordered a beer and a soda. As we scanned the scene for familiar faces we noticed Mick Sowry of Musica Surfica.
A word about Mick — Mick was a pleasure to hang out with. He was soft-spoken and kind. He was also super excited to be in New York to screen his film. On Saturday morning after just thee hours of sleep, David, and I drove with Jersey Curran across the Brooklyn bridge to pick up Mick in Chinatown and then headed out to Long Island for a surf. Chris at Mollusk loaned Mick a small Chris Christianson Bonzer and a rare 5’11” Pavel Choice marine ply keel fish. Stoked! I lucked out to get to ride the fish after Mick chose the Bonzer. Curran drove us to an undisclosed spot on Long Island and we surfed three hours in overhead beach break. David and Curran were ripping. Mick was feeling out the Long Island scene and scored his share of screamers. I struggled a bit at first on the Pavel as it felt shorter than my go to board but eventually I was able to coax it over the ledge and make a few fast runs in the heavy Long Island beachies.
Back to the festival eh. The film selection was great and included local films like The Rock’s (won viewers choice award) as well as big label selections like the Archy movie. We didn’t get to see as many films as we would’ve liked due to my gonzo proclivities. However, we did get to catch a few great ones. My particular favorite being Sliding Liberia, a beautiful film about a post war country trying to rebuild its sense of community. Surfing in the film was quite good but not the central theme, that being the human condition.The film was a testament to how surf films can go beyond the act and commercial interest of surfing to include a human element, to question our values and ethics.
In contrast to the Liberia film was a short titled Distant Shores about surfer Christian missionaries in Nicaragua. The film received an award at the festival for best short. However, the film seemed to be built on a 1950’s missionary paradigm of the white man doing good for the little brown people. The film failed to place the local participants on the same human level as its stars – the surfers. It stunk of neo-colonialism and clichÃ©d proselytizing. I had to go order a beer halfway through to avoid blurting out any of the many obscenities going through my head. But isn’t this what it’s all about? Exposing ourselves to new ways of looking at surf culture?
We met some interesting folks in New York. Malcolm Campbell was there to talk briefly about his short film titled Bonzer: The Mothership. We also chatted a little with The Surfer’s Path editor Alex Dick-Read. The crowd was full of New York surf fashionistas and some non-surfing film fans as well making for a diverse audience and a testament to the appeal of the festival.
As a final note I’d like to say thanks to the festival organizers, and especially to Tyler for his rad hosting abilities and friendly demeanor (oh and he rips to as we saw in the Jet Blue ad). We will be there for sure next year, can’t wait to see how they out-do themselves considering this years impressive film lineup.
And a final final note —festival winner Musica Surfica has finally been released for sale on DVD. It’s chock full of extras, as if the film wasn’t enough to blow your mind. Please pass the link to all your friends.
You can order the film here: http://www.greatsoutherncommunications.com.au/index.php?id=57