Top Ten Surf Movies - Part Two

Sun, sand and surfing make one immediately think of California, our key inspiration for the KENZO Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Guillaume Le Goff presents the second part of his list of top ten surf films from the past 50 years. 

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"Lords of Dogtown" (2005)

“They came from nothing to change everything…”: that's a fact, there was a ‘before’ and ‘after’ the Z Boyz. "DogTown & Z-Boyz" (2001), was initially a documentary film about the birth of skateboarding in a beach and surf culture era, more precisely around Venice Beach (aka "Dogtown") and Santa Monica. The documentary was directed by Stacy Peralta, narrated by Sean Penn, and with original contributions by Zephyr Skate's co-founder Craig Stecyk and legendary photographer Glen E. Friedman. Brilliantly executed and a huge success worldwide, it spoke about the emergence of skateboarding in ‘70s Dogtown and the dominating role of "local surf and skate heros" such as Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta from the Zephyr skateboard Team (or Z Boys). Along with board designer and manager Skip Engblom, these vanguards really shaped the surf/skate transition and contributed to spread the word of skateboarding by riding the streets, schoolyards and of course, all those empty Californian pool bowls – the promised land.
The film "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Stacy Peralta, is based on the original story. With a side dish of Hollywood drama, a neat screenplay and to the mellow sounds of Neil Young, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, it brought the Californian skate genesis to the eyes and minds of millions of people around the world.


"Chasing Mavericks" (2012)


Also based on a true story, "Chasing Mavericks" was the latest big surf blockbuster to come out of Hollywood. 8 year-old Jay (James) Moriarty is rescued from drowning by big wave surfer Frosty Hesson, who some years later takes on the role as James's mentor, and coaches James to his extreme limits in order to achieve his lifetime dream: surf Mavericks, a legendary spot that nobody thinks is even real. Mavericks is one of the biggest waves on the planet, created once a decade by the Northern Californian winter swells at half Moon Bay, near Santa Cruz, California. After months of intense and emotional preparation, one day the wave arrives. Before a large crowd gathered on the beach and on boats, James, after a memorable wipeout at first attempt (caught on camera and making the cover of Surfer magazine), gets back on his board and finally conquers Mavericks at only just 16. His legend lives now forever.


"Endless Summer" (1966)


A cornerstone of the surf film genre, "Endless Summer" introduced the real surfing experience to a broader audience, and inspired the birth of the phenomenal ‘surf lifestyle’:  going to ride around the world just for the pleasure of being on a beach, in the sun and living it up with friends.
For the first time on screen, filmmaker/narrator Bruce Brown, a passionate Californian surfer himself, follows two young local surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August, willing to experience an endless summer in search of the perfect wave. To accomplish their dream, they travel to new surf spots (most of them never seen and ridden before) including Ghana, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand or the famous Cape St. Francis break in Cape Town. Along the way, they enlist famous surf figures like Rodney Sumpter and Nat Young, as well as local heroes who become friends for life. Upon its release, Time magazine described it as “a dazzling ode to sun, sand and surf”, while The New Yorker offered it as a “brilliant, perfect movie”. With a beautiful original soundtrack by The Sandals, it's often considered the best surfing film of all time; a key to understanding the culture of surf and most importantly, about feeling good.


"One California Day" (2007)


Rebuking the trend for surf documentaries that were dealing with increasingly trendy new destinations, "One California Day" is a collection of stories, experiences and surf spots woven together into an enjoyable film by directors Mark Jeremias and Jason Baffa, both Cali born and raised. Superbly shot in 16 mm color film, it captures beautiful locations from Crescent City in the North to Imperial Beach in the South near San Diego. For Jeremias and Baff, there’s no need to go far to experience the fun and freedom offered by short or long board riding: California's beaches and coastal spots, with its charming people, traditions and original history, has everything to offer for those looking for a good day of surfing. Shooting with top surfers Joe Curren, Lance Carlson, Alex Knost and Joel Tudor, they even caught a Big Wednesday historical swell of the decade up North; thus making One California Day an epically perfect one.


"Little Victories"(2013)


"Little Victories" is a simple and joyful 30 minute surf film directed by Perry Gershkow (a filmmaker from Marin County, CA) that conducts us along the California north coast in search of new terrains to explore. Here, every single wave conquered is a "little victory" for the protagonists: a bunch of good friends who live for surfing with smooth style and great tricks, including some local rippers like Tyler Payne, Colin Dwyer, Bryce Adams and Jordan Stern. Watch this humble piece, appreciate its beautiful vibe and great rock soundtrack and there are high chances that you will think about booking a ticket to Santa Cruz or San Francisco to finally witness this cool madness for yourself.


Other films & documentaries to watch :

"Thicker Than Water" (2000)

"Momentum" (2001)

"Step into Liquid" (2003)

"A Broke Down Melody" (2004)

"These are Better days" (2004)

"The Seedling", "Sprout", "The Present" (2007-2009)

"Stoked & Broke" (2010)

"The Ductumentary" (2013)

"Secret Sound" (2013)