Musica Surfica – Surfing Movie Review


musica surficaThere is a reason why Musica Surfica won the New York Surf Film Festival.

Indeed, Musica Surfica is unlike any other surfing documentary you’ve ever seen (or heard, to be more precise.)

In a very tight 45 minutes, Musica Surfica tells the stories of musicians and surfers – each artists in their own craft.  There are two story lines that splice together in a way that makes this surfing film distinct from any other. The first is the story of the artistic director of Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti, who also happens to be an avid surfer. In his non-surfing life, Tognetti expands the bounds of what is considered classical music, and a good portion of the film is devoted to demonstrating just what can be done with the right tools – in this case a $10 million violin crafted in the 1700s. Tognetti is the Tom Carroll of his craft. Indeed, watching Musica Surfica is akin to watching Tom Carroll surf, but in this case the shredding is done with a violin. Combine it with surfing and you’ve got a winning film that will give any surfer sweet dreams of waves set to music. Combine it with surfing in the way Mick Sowry, the film’s writer and director does, and you’ve got something truly special.

The second story is that of surfing on King’s Island on a variety of watercraft, led by perhaps one of the most creative surfers around, Derek Hynd. Shortboards. Longboards. Sponge-thingys. 16 foot replicas of ancient longboards. Alaia. In short, all manner of surfing equipment, except that unlike your boards, none of the boards featured in Musica Surfica have fins. Finless surfing. And nothing says finless surfing like:

  • Tom Carroll flopping around in a *beginner surfer*-like manner as he learns to control a board that slips and slides down the faces of waves. (And here you thought the damned fins on your fish were making it hard to hold the line…)
  • Derek Hynd doing absolutely incredible 360s on a surfboard like one would do on a boogieboard. Hynd is a pioneer in surfing in the way the ancients.

Watching a wooden longboard being shaped by Tom Wegener and later seeing him take off on an absolutely monstrous 16 feet log and yet stay in perfect trim, is just stunning. Just when you thought he (or the other surfers featured) would pearl these boards, they’d pull it out. It’s amazing footage.

Despite the fins, every surfer eventually gets it. This movie makes you want to get out there with your own board, dump the fins, and experience the art of surfing in a manner that decidedly does not hold the line. If you’re not fortunate enough to view this on a big screen, make sure you have a great sound system to do the surfing scenes justice, which are coupled with Tognetti’s haunting music.

finless surfingNow, we at firmly believe that when it’s flat or howling onshore, surfers can use a good dose of stoke from a flick like My Eyes Won’t Dry or some other barrel-fest. But when you want to reflect on from where surfing hails, the possibilities that wave sliding holds, and your own ties to the ocean as a surfer, there is possibly no better film to do that with than Musica Surfica.

If you’re in SoCal, you should check out Musica Surfica at the California Surf Film Festival this coming weekend in Oceanside. Check out the official trailer below to get a better sense of where this film is going better than I could ever write:

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