coastal british columbia  

surf-jam-04: the movie by Steve Fagan - 2004 surfing  

surf-jam-04: the movie

surf-jam-04: the movie / 26 min / DVD / 2004

Steve Faganís surf-jam-04: the movie opens with a scenic of the gleaming, blue, mirror-flat Kennedy Lake. Itís a gorgeous shot, but as a surf movie, his self-produced video documentary of 2004ís Quiksilver Surf Jam suffers from the fact that Cox Bay and the Lake looked virtually identical for the two days on which the Surf Jam was contested. There are surfers and Tofino residents who feel that Huey and the other Ocean Gods withheld the showing of decent swell that weekend as a punishment for the temporary transformation of their beloved beach at Cox into a packed, bannered scene that resembled Daytona or Vancouverís Kits Beach during a beach volleyball tournament, but the soul vs. contest rift isnít territory that needs to be entered by this review. And so, all being said, Faganís film is exactly what it claims to be, a straightforward visual record of the latest iteration of Canadaís biggest surf competition.

Held at the end of June, the Surf Jam weekend was blessed by brilliant weather, warm water and clear skies. Watching surf-jam-04: the movie is a pleasant reminder that coastal Canada isnít always miserable temperatures and southwest squalls; the DVD is complete with sunshine, dogs, skimboarders, stoked little groms, fashion-perfect hipsters, crumbling knee-high waves, cruisy longboard rides, and all the other familiar elements of Tofino beach days. Surfers who arenít stoked on competitions or on watching small-wave surfing wonít be overly excited by this film, but for those who have fond memories of that weekend, or for those who competed and want to see themselves surf, itíll be a worthwhile purchase. There are some stylishly surfed waves Ė riders like Raph and Sepp Bruhwiler, Peter Devries, Ben Murphy and Noah Cohen are always a pleasure to watch, and they all manage to find some nice flow despite severely limiting conditions -- and the video is imbued with a happy-go-lucky fun-in-the-sun sort of feel, the sort of gleeful innocence that surfing had in its early days, and that it still has when the waves are a write-off and everyone decides to make the most of it anyway and have an easygoing splash of summer surf under the influence of the North Pacific High.

Most of surf-jam-04: the movieís content is composed of wave riding from the contest and lifestyle shots from around the Tofino area, and itís interspersed with well-spoken interview clips from Peter and Guto Jacone. Fagan has a great eye for composition Ė the close-up front shots of Seppís rights are a striking angle thatís rarely seen in surf films, and the Esowista Peninsulaís physical beauty is always more than apparent on screen Ė but the interviews are often hard to hear in the DVDís audio mix. Itís a film that leaves you wanting a bit more depth Ė titles for the riders, more interviews, more women and more completed waves Ė and it seems that will have to wait for next year and Faganís next release. But the real raison díetre of surf films is to stoke surfers into getting out into the Big Blue, and in that department ďsurf-jam-04: the movieĒ is certainly a success. Itís like a really, really good home movie of the most public, though not necessarily the most representative, weekend of surfing on the Canadian West Coast.

Malcolm Johnson

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