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Distance Between Dreams Premiere, Maui

Ian Walsh's big-wave biopic debuts to sellout hometown crowd

Images courtesy of Red Bull

If there is a more tight-knit and supportive surf community than the one on Maui, I’ve yet to see it. This idea was reinforced Saturday during the premier of Ian Walsh’s film, Distance Between Dreams, held at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC), which had two sold out shows and a star studded guest list that included Shane Dorian, Greg Long, Albee Layer, Matt Meola, Dege O’Connell and many more.

Before he started the film, Ian stood on stage in a tailored blue suit, and said a few words, “To actually be here tonight in front of all of you, and share what we worked so hard on, is a really big honor. I’ve grown up with and spent my whole life with a lot of you, and this is a portrait of what we’ve done together as friends, so I appreciate all of you coming here.”

Cue the applause. Hit the lights. Roll the film.

And the film? It’s a documentary that spans the course of two years, giving the viewer a rare look at the realities of a professional big-wave surfer. Realities that include:

– A shit ton of training
– Watching your friends and family nearly die
– Watching them bounce back and thrive
– Not just enjoying packing 50-foot waves at Jaws, but loving the off moments that get you there

Which is to say, the big-wave surfing war is much more than the battle itself, and through numerous interviews and stunning/creative cinematography, Distance Between Dreams shows just that.

When the lights were lit and both screenings were screened, the Maui surf community went from the MACC to Charley’s in Paia, where locals Lily Meola and Lukas Nelson sang and strummed to the crowd’s delight.

I bumped into Ian at the show, his jacket now unbuttoned, and asked if he was feeling accomplished.

“Not yet,” he said. “Still have to see what the rest of the world thinks of it.”

I told him them you’ll love it. And you will. Get the film December 2 at DistanceBetweenDreams.com, and read a full-length interview with Ian in the next issue of SURFING.