Sunday, January 13, 2008

Surfers bustin' down the door of film festival, by David Knox - The Sun-Herald - 13th January 2008

Australian surfing greats will join Hollywood superstar Cate Blanchett as guests of the prestige Santa Barbara International Film Festival this month.

Former world champions Mark Richards and Wayne Bartholomew have been invited to a civic reception hosted by Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum on January 26, the day Blanchett will be presented with the festival's Modern Master award.

Richards, 50, and Bartholomew, 53, are among Australian, South African and American surfers featured in a documentary Bustin' Down The Door, which will have its world premiere at the festival in the Californian city on January 27.

The film's title is the same as a controversial article written by Bartholomew for US magazine Surfer in January 1977.

The article dealt with the emergence of Australian and South African surfers on the Hawaiian contest scene.

The story and the brashness of some of the visiting surfers triggered a violent reaction from local surfers.

Emerging from a brokered peace was the fledgling world professional circuit, won in its first seven years by Australian Peter Townend, Shaun Tomson, Bartholomew and Richards (four times).

Top-paid surfers on the circuit now earn tens of thousands of dollars in prizemoney and millions in sponsorship from surf industry giants such as Quiksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl, Rusty and Volcom.

Director Jeremy Gosch's film includes footage of the surfers in Hawaii in the 1970s and interviews with them 30 years later.

The film, narrated by twice Oscar-nominated actor Edward Norton, is the brainchild of Tomson.

"Shaun felt the exploits of the surfers from that era had been overlooked," Richards said yesterday.

"What we did then was create the blueprint for professional surfing. Surfers now are reaping the rewards."

Former surf magazine editor Bill Sharp wrote: "It should be made into law that every spoiled-brat pro surfer being paid a single dollar in sponsorship should be duct-taped to a chair and forced to watch this film until he fully understands the debt he owes these pioneers who busted down the door on behalf of a future generation."

Film festival director Roger Durling said: "I am super stoked to have Bustin' Down the Door."

Blanchett is also in a festival entry, the documentary In The Company Of Actors, whose cast includes her husband, Andrew Upton, and Hugo Weaving.

Other stars to be honoured at the festival include Julie Christie, Ryan Gosling, Angelina Jolie, Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem.

Richards will take Ms Blum a letter of greeting from Newcastle Mayor John Tate and Bartholomew will do the same with a message from Gold Coast Mayor and former champion long distance runner Ron Clarke.

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