The African Kirra

August 9, 2023

Funny that. Just after an epic run of left-breaking waves of Skeleton Bay, the movie Chasing the Unicorn premiered about a righthand mirror, the African Kirra, on the exact opposite side of Africa, writes Spike.

I used to think that the days of scout hall stoke - those excited moments of Saturday movie matinee mayhem, when screams and hoots rattled the roof tiles - had been consigned to the graveyard where wonder dies.

Surely, in recent years, the stifling effects of anti-social tech - from the explosion of invasive social media apps and fake news, coupled with just a little bit of Covid fuckery, and topped by the relentless, robotic advance of algorithms and AI - had numbed us into a catatonic acceptance that resistance is futile. The revolution would not be televised. Well, if you were at the global premiere of Chasing the Unicorn at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town last night, you would have known that all is not lost.

This thumping production by Now Now Media captures a small piece of the rapidly expanding surf culture of Mozambique, while presenting a more detailed profile of the sand-spitting, blood-curdling, brain-draining barrel that bucks and sucks across a shallow sand bar.

What irony that this East Coast jewel lies all of 2,200 kilometres as the crow flies on the same latitude as Skeleton Bay, where many in the audience had just returned literally within a day or two after a mind-bending few days of profoundly epic surf, with some people calling it the best Skeleton Bay they had ever seen.

Ryan Payne of Monster Energy, and several of the Now Now team, including Director of Photography Alan van Gysen, had starry looks in their eyes after having just returned after a crazy week or so of getting barrelled, or filming friends getting barrelled. People in the audience before the movie were babbling about one minute tube rides.

BE FRANK: Frankie Oberholzer had a few hilarious quips and anecdotes that cement his legendary status in SA surfing.

No wonder the atmosphere was raucous and rumbustious as if an electric current surged through the seats before the movie started in Cine 1 and Cine 3, both packed and vibing. Each board-snapping wipeout sparked howls of commisseration. Each spitting success met with shrieks of stoke like the hounds had been unleashed. It was like someone had just announced the end of Covid lockdown.  

They call it the African Kirra, which was described on the Now Now website in 2021, perhaps when the idea for the film first stirred: "The name is equal parts truth and irony. Easily comparable in quality to its Gold Coast namesake, the wave breaks minus the ever-present crowd Kirra has become synonymous with. In fact, if you do luck into a swell here, chances are you will be surfing alone."

The African Kirra

As Alan mused to me after the film: "I also thought that film premieres of that sort were dead. I also thought that, especially with social media, and the less than one minute attention span of most content!"

"It was a bit baffling because a number of teenagers came up to me at the end of the film and they were like, 'we love that so much, but it was too short! We wanted more!' I said to the editor of the film Will Bendix that it was really well edited when teenagers are saying they wanted to see more. It speaks a lot about the flow of the film, how it grabs your attention. But of course, it's better to rather leave the audience wanting more than make it too long. It was something we debated a lot before the edit," he said

Job well done, I'd say.