Sancho Rodríguez, Surfilm Festibal Director
This is the 10th year of the Surfilm Festibal, how are the preparations coming along?
We’re already at the final stage – the contents have been defined, we’ve already launched a programme trailer… it’s all under way! But blimey, now comes the real work… A festival must be serious in its contents, deal with relevant topics in the world of surf (both locally and globally), it must be well produced and the audience must find it surprising, funny, enriching. In order to achieve this mixture you must work hard and keep an eye on everything. This year we really had to make an extra effort with the sponsorship in order to put our ideas into practice. It’s been a tough year for the festival – and of course, for virtually everybody. But we’re happy to say we have unconditional support from Patagonia, Kutxa and, for the very first time, our local beer –KELER!! And of course there are some really helpful institutions like Donosti Kultura’s Cinema Unit, thank you guys!
For this year’s poster you’ve chosen a violent, almost aggressive image. It’s far removed from the way most people picture surf culture in their minds. Shall we call it… beach borroka?
Yes, we’ve really taken a turn in terms of the festival’s aesthetics. You guys know what I mean because Surfilm was born at Loreak – Xabi designed the logo and you designed the first four editions. In my opinion, Surfilm has always had its own aesthetics instead of following the aesthetic canon of surf culture. We wanted to do our own thing by mirroring our geographical location and our cultural references; we were determined to be different. When Surfilm started we were alone, there weren’t any other cinema+surf festivals. Ten years later there are around 25 of them all over the world, and many, if not most of them, share a certain style. So this image is a heavy statement and yes, Beach Borroka is quite a fitting description. Since we saw this picture, we knew it could become a declaration of intent, a real change, and a way to start anew and open new directions…
These days the Surfilm Festibal is not just a bunch of surf movies – it has become something else. What will be this year’s unmissable moments?
Surfilm is basically a celebration of the local surf scene, a meeting point for us surfers who greet each other on the waves all the way from Hossegor to Sopelana during the rest of the year, and of course we bring loads of guests from the Peninsula, Iparralde, etc. I like to describe it as a ‘tribal gathering’ in which cinema opens the door to new waves, new ways of filming, new moves, environmental issues, plastic artists… and of course, a chance to enjoy a cold beer and listen to good music in some unusual spot. This year we’ll try to set up a terraced bar to enjoy amazing sunsets from the Aquarium, we will return to the Guardetxe after many years without staging any events there, and on a less festive note, we will check the work of the best surf filmmakers in EXTENDED VISION, which will feature iPhone filming on the beach of Gros!
As for the movies, what are the ones you feel proudest of having brought to the festival?
We’ve had lots of goosebumps moments when pressing the ‘play’ button: Crystal Voyager was the first film we ever showed… epic! Morning of the Earth closing the first edition. The world premiere of Stacy Peralta’s Riding Giants. The first time Litmus was ever shown on a big screen under a full moon at the Kursaal was dope! Then there are all those films by local filmmakers featuring local riders – Ibon Amatriain, Axi, Aritz, Palots, many crazed moments during the ‘Local Warming’ sessions… Some filmmakers have become friends, like Trefz with The Thread (I remember Edu Zips’ jaw dropping when he saw Jim Denevan’s drawings on the sand). There have been a few freakouts (Takeshi Kitano springs to mind) and of course last year we had our Japanese friends visiting right after the tsunami… I’m sure I’m forgetting many… everything we have shown had a reason to be there. Perhaps the unwisest thing we’ve done was to show Noah´s Arc (a film about Christian surfers) without a previous warning… Some guys were really after our heads – we had to hide in the bar next door!
A few years ago it seemed that most interesting/innovative ideas in surf cinema were happening around the longboard. Perhaps this genre has evolved into something a bit too formal, even ‘hollow’… what do you think? Where is creativity springing up these days?
I totally agree – these days it’s so easy to achieve striking images. Anyone can take a 5D and go arty on you by just shooting some funny-looking sheep in the countryside and adding a few tricks with the light and some false analogue digital effects. Technology has allowed everyone to get ‘nice’ pictures. The challenge is to make something truly moving, to tell a story. There are some interesting young guys out there –Ryley Blakeway, Jack Coleman, Pandora Decoster, they are really pushing the envelope and making things evolve. It’s a progressive surf scene, and of course there’s always danger that the scene becomes the next big thing among hipsters and ends up in some hollow gesture… but that’s just cycles. True originals break the mold, then others just come behind and copy them, with rather pedestrian results.
Do you think the Surfilm has left its mark among local surfers after these ten years?
I think so. Now we get really demanding crowds – they won’t settle for something that is mediocre. But of course ten years ago there was no Youtube, remember? Those primitive days… now everything’s online and for free, so people are becoming a bit jaded after having seen it all – the best, the biggest, the maddest. These days you really must make a good choice in order to get a full venue… I also see a local scene, with people doing their own thing right here, which of course was one of our aims!
Finally, choose a film per decade from the 60s until today.
The 60s would be Endless Summer – it’s a bit imperialist but it was such a shock when I first saw it (I was 14). The 70s: Morning of the Earth (40th anniversary coming next year, Kidman has something in mind!). The 80s perhaps would be 5 Summer Stories and Herby Fletcher’s Wave Warriors. The 90s is Litmus – it really opened the door to a breed of genuine, inquiring surfers. The 2000s are still too close to gain some perspective… And lest we forget Apocalypse Now, one of the best surf flicks ever, plus Big Wednesday, North Shore and of course Point Break – if a surfer likes it it’s always a good sign, 80% of Yankee surfers hate it!!!
Thanks a lot you guys for featuring us in your blog and your Facebook (you’ve got more friends than Maradona!)
Check out the PLAYLIST we’ve done for the 10th Surfilm Festibal