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Aug 04, 2017

Ten Years of Stoke

Summertime is always a great season if you are a surfer residing in Honolulu. Not only are the reefs in Waikiki picking up the Southern Hemisphere swells, but the Honolulu Museum of Art celebrates Hawaii's greatest gift to the world by showing surf movies for the entire month of July. Yep, an entire month of surf flicks, neatly organized into a film fest that concluded in early August. It's a truly a beautiful thing to live in Hawaii, isn't it?

To boot, 2017 was a special year for the Honolulu Surf Film Festival as it celebrated its 10th birthday. The month-long festival kicked off with a July 1st opening party that brought director Taylor Steele (largely regarded as the king of surf filmmaking) and his newest flick, Proximity, to the Doris Duke Theater. These parties are always fun as all manner of wave-riders show up: legends, gremmies, and stoked uncles arrive in droves to watch and hoot at these technicolored sea stories. It's surf culture in its finest form and we think it's a beautiful thing.

After the screening of one of the most-anticipated films, Proximity, director Taylor Steele was interviewed by local editor and journalist Daniel Ikaika Ito. The most successful surf filmmaker of the past 25 years talked about his career and the making of his most recent film to the packed house. The lucky ones also caught Steele at festival sponsor, The Surfjack, for a talk-story session the night before the opening party.

For 10 years, the Honolulu Surf Film Festival has been bringing you the view from inside the lineup.

So how did the film fest originate? Founded by former Honolulu Museum of Art Film Curator Gina Caruso, and Jackie and Eric Walden, the former owners of Chinatown Boardroom, the Honolulu Surf Film Festival has become more popular with each successive year. While that may be surprising in the age of Netflix, it still shows that surf movies are communal affairs amongst our salty tribe, and that surf films are better when viewed on a big screen.

Doris Duke Theatre administrative assistant Sarah Fang now organizes the festival. While new surf films make up the majority of the screenings, Fang artfully curated classics from the '60s, '70s, and '90s for special Thursday night showings. (As a note to lifelong surfers and newcomers: Never pass up an opportunity to watch The Endless Summer on the big screen.) But of the new films premiered at the festival, there were three in particular that proved to be a crowd-favorites: Given, The Accord, Oceans, and Fishpeople.

Legendary waterman Mark Cunningham, shot on location during the filming of Oceans. Photo: Trim Magazine / Russo

As has become customary, the best is always saved for last at the Honolulu Surf Film Festival. For the past eight years, the closing night show is always reserved for a screening of a Bud Browne surf film. Browne is the originator and father of the surf movie, and Bud's last film, Going Surfin', played this year. Anna Trent Moore, daughter of Buzzy Trent, is the caretaker of Browne's archive, and she always gets a panel of legendary surfers to discuss the film and its significance. This year's panel was the best yet, with Clyde Aikau literally stealing the show as he presented a slideshow/talk story of pictures from the last Eddie.

Ten years into its run, and the Honolulu Surf Film Festival continues to impress, drawing larger crowds, more diverse films, and even more iconic guest speakers. As a sport that's endemic to the islands, it's crucial that surf culture, captured and distributed to the masses in form of surf movies, remain intact and creative. And from all accounts, that's exactly what we have in store for the next decade. Here's to another 10 years of celebrating surf celluloid, in all of its wonderful iterations.

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