Tami Knight: Blawg #7, The Murky Protoplasm

Posted on: January 20, 2008


Passion and inspiration are shouted from the rooftops of every mountain or adventure film festival with the gleeful abandon of ol' Uncle Walt's mighty yawp.

"I feel passionate about what I do... and... I hope you, uh, are inspired by, umm, this film....." says the often nervous speaker introducing the work. The house lights go dark, the film glows onto the screen and hairs are blown back.

Corner the filmmaker afterwards, however, and poke at their passion and inspiration with the stick of cynicism ("Confess that you still live in yer Mom's basement.") and you'll find the nervousness gone (" I wish we hadn't blown that fatty in the parkin' lot it's all [deleted]'s fault." ). The person standing before you becomes less about passion and inspiration then about being committed to the tits with this or that project and, at times, conflicted about what they do.

Passion and inspiration might be what they say when others watch and listen but their lives are more about commitment and conflict.

You might breathe in a four-count and say Om to passion and inspiration but the next morning you shit commitment as the bills roll in and the paycheques don't. Time to buy another QP to divvy and sell or move back to Mom's in the hopes of gettin' this latest project off the ground. "Honey? Is this because your girlfriend left you again?"

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" Darling why don't you go back and finish your degree?"

" Sweetheart, your father would like his garage back. Can you store all your gear someplace else?"

" Would you like me to make you a nice hot lunch?"

Conflict arises when the brain (finally) kicks in. The devil on yer shoulder is a butt-ugly bugger and it shoves it's pitchfork in your flesh and flicks you in the eye with it's scaly bifurcated tail.

'What is the point of all this? Yer not passionate; yer attention-deficit. Inspiring whom and to do what? Quit their job and do the shit you do? You're jealous c'os they have a nice job, a real place to live and yer not unemployed you are unemployable. And what's this with playing out your adventures in the cultures and issues of other people?"

The horror, the horror.

Surf Nite at the Alpinist Film Fest played two films which peered straight into the maw of commitment and conflict. Sliding Liberia and The Bra Boys were radically different films both from each other and from the usual Dude Drops In ( Sometimes Dude Eats It)

surf genre.

Sliding Liberia, co-directed by Britton Caillouette and Nicholai Lidlow came out of Lidlow's desire to return again and again to Liberia, one of the most trashed African countries. Since surfing keeps his heart tickin', he and some pals went to Liberia for a month to ride some waves and see if they could inspire....what? The locals to surf? When I read about this film, I was slightly aghast at the premise — surfing in a country emerging from a war with egregious human rights violations.

But the film works brilliantly. Emphasizing Liberia and Liberians rather then surfing, Caillouette and Lidlow communicate the wars effects and how those who survived it now live on with hope and the overwhelming wish to simply live in peace, grow food, have families and...what is this? Surf? Yeah....maybe that too.

The Bra Boys is an Australian film by Sunny Abberton. While the focus of the film is upon Abberton's family, by extension the film is about the sometimes troubled youth who surf and live at Maroubra Beach, in a poor district of Sydney, Oz. Oh, there's also some killer surfing shots but those are incidental to the evolution of the story of Abberton's brothers Jai and Koby being indicted for murder. It's a harrowing story but one that doesn't purport to give answers other then simply to state this is who we are and we happen to surf.

Most interesting to me was the last shots of the film. These were snaps of the various Bra Boys alive and R.I.P. The very last person shown was the seriously troubled lad Jai was acquitted of murdering. Despite being "My Brother's Keeper", Abberton found the forgiveness to acknowledge the very person who caused his brothers anguish.

Both these films successfully peeled away those external layers of passion and inspiration to reveal the core of commitment and conflict. My wish is this is a trend in adventure films and that we see less "Hold My Beer and Watch This" and more of the murky protoplasm that spawned it.

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