The backstory of the Endless Summer, the most watched documentary of all time in any genre, will hold its official South African premiere at the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Festival in Cape Town next week.

Written by
March 3, 2023
MIGHTY MAW: The waves in Facing Monsters are from anothe realm. Photo: Supplied

The 2023 festival, which is presented by Vans, will screen the feature Birth of the Endless Summer at the Galileo Outdoor Cinema in Kirstenbosch Gardens, on Tuesday 7 March, and attended by Capetonians featured in the film.

It has been just under 60 years since the Endless Summer premiered to tumultuous applause by curious onlookers at Cape Town’s Labia Theatre in 1965. The evening was hosted by surfing pioneer John Whitmore, or The Oom, who had played a pivotal role in producing the film. He later became known as the founder of the South African surf industry, and the person who brought Morey Boogie boards and Hobie Cat to our shores.  

In the film, through archived footage and dog-eared photographs, Emmy Award-winning director Richard Yelland goes back to when grizzled Californian surf bum Dick Metz vagabonds the globe from 1958 to 1961. He lands up in Cape Town, and meets Whitmore by “happenstance”. This moment, when Metz picks up a decrepit surfboard washed up on the rocks in Sea Point followed by a gruff greeting with the owner (and maker), changed the history of surfing around the world.

In 2019, a nostalgic Dick, at the age of 90, returns to meet local surfers and see places he shared with the Oom and his family. Crucially, the film expands on how vital the South African leg of the film trip was, featuring Californians Robert August and Mike Hynson with filmmaker Bruce Brown. The sequence of the discovery of Cape St Francis is a highlight, warts and all.

OLD CREW: Dick Metz with the Whitmore family and friends. Photo: Supplied

Wavescape also premieres the much anticipated big wave documentary Facing Monsters at the Scarborough Community Centre on Tuesday 21 March and skateboarding epic Humanity Stoked, at the Labia with Vans for the festival closing night on Saturday 25 March, with director Michael Cohen in attendance from the US.

Facing Monsters profiles the riveting story of Kerby Brown, a self-destructive Australian surfer on a single-minded quest to conquer unrideable, remote waves in an unrelenting wilderness. Much more than a simple surfing story, this film is a searing psychological study of the twilight zone between life and death fuelled by hubris.

SURFING SAVANT: If you ever wanted to know what a guru looks like, watch Natural High. Photo: Supplied

A deeply thoughtful treatise into the state of our world, Humanity Stoked examines how we can move forward, as espoused by iconic skateboarders, activists, scientists, artists, musicians, and educators unified by experiences and perspectives shaped by a love for skateboarding. The film depicts how we can peacefully, openly, and intelligently advance humanity into the future.

In a collaboration with Sunburnt Surf Club, Wavescape will screen two South African premieres, Conduende and Natural High, at the Labia Theatre on Sunday 19 March. Conduende profiles the soulful style and alternative spirit of French longboarding savant Clovis Donizetti on his travels through southern Spain in search of parallels between riding waves and the performing flamenco arts. Natural High plunges us into a soulful journey into the profound nature of the cosmos, and the role we have within it, from a metaphysical and spiritual perspective.

Wavescape also moves to the Bertha Movie House in Khayelitsha to show Valley of a Thousand Hills, The Black Mermaid and Sonic Souvenirs 1.

The first film profiles rural skateboarders in Kwa-Zulu Natal. In the second, South Africa's first black female freediver Zandile Ndhlovu, uncovers the magic of the annual sardine run off the East Coast while examining African folklore. In the third film, Mikey February meets the inimitable guitarist Madala Kunene from Durban to explore art, music and surfing.

Several short films will warm up the screen for the features. Blink profiles the talents of Shane Sykes in some of the most pristine and exquisite surfing locations in Indonesia, Mexico, California and South Africa. And Yet, I Remain updates us on Caleb Swanepoel, who lost a leg to a shark in 2015, as he finally lets his post-traumatic obsessions go by learning to free dive. In Africa, we journey to the sights and sounds of Morocco with South African longboarder Sam Christiansen. Another two longboarding films round off the lineup: The Physics Of Nose Riding by Patagonia, which playfully investigates the science behind surfing’s fluid dance to ‘hang ten’, while Amble is a visual poetic eulogy to the same thing

The festival also comprises a new addition: Wavescape Surf & Ocean Quiz Night, Thursday 9 March, Jack Black's Tap Room; 10 artistic surfboards auctioned for charities, Taproom, Wednesday 22 March; eight speakers with salty ocean tales at Slide Night, Centre for the Book, Cape Town, Wednesday 15 March; Beach Co-op Undersea Clean-up, Fish Hoek, Thursday 16 March; Board Meeting, Tap Room Saturday 18 March; Blue Ocean Master Class with Wesgro, Monday 20 March; and Spike Swell Course, Kommetjie, Thursday 23 March.

Thanks to our partners: Vans, Wesgro, Save Our Seas Foundation, Petco, Jack Black Beer, Justice 4 Jaws and Lubanzi Wines.

2023 LineupTuesday 7 March: Galileo Movie Night, Kirstenbosch

Thursday 9 March: Surf & Ocean Quiz Night, Jack Black's Tap Room

Saturday 11 March: Film at Isivivana Centre, Khayelitsha & ocean excursion with 9 Miles Project

Tuesday 14 February: Artboard exhibition opens for viewing, Jack Black’s Tap Room

Wednesday 15 March: Slide Night, Centre for the Book

Thursday 16 March: Beach Co-op Undersea clean up and ocean chat, Fish Hoek Beach

Saturday 18 March: Board Meeting, Jack Black's Tap Room

Sunday 19 March: Sunburnt Surf Club surf eventSunday

19 March: Film night & Q&A curated by Sunburnt Surf Club at the Labia

Monday 20 March: Blue Ocean's Master Class with Wesgro (Invest SA, One Stop Shop)

Tuesday 21 March: Deep South Film Night, Scarborough Community Centre

Wednesday 22 March: ArtBoard Charity Auction, Jack Black’s Tap Room

Thursday 23 March: Spike’s Swell Course

Saturday 25 March: Michael Cohen film with Vans at The Labia Cinema - Humanity StokedSeaWalls - Public Art Mural: Sea Point Promenade by artist NARD

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