“If I told you, I’d have to kill you” are the words of Waveriders director Joel Conroy when asked about the untapped potential of Ireland’s wild coast. He’s trapped, standing in a panel discussion with filmer Jason Baffa, Keith Malloy and Kevin Naughton — before an audience of careful listeners. “There are plenty more places, let’s put it that way,” he trails off.
But, really, it’s an obvious answer to a common question in a discussion framed around new discoveries. The truth is, though, that Ireland is a bit of an anomaly — a place that has fallen somewhere between known and virgin. Familiar and fresh. From the early footsteps of surf travel pioneer Kevin Naughton to the intrepid Malloy brothers to Ireland’s own big-wave hellmen Richard Fitzgerald and Gabe Davies, Ireland has ebbed and flowed along in surfing’s love affair with global conquest.
And this is what Joel Conroy wants to show you. Beginning with the godfather of surf travel, George Freeth, and stringing through Naughton, the Malloy’s, Fitzgerald, Davies and more, Conroy does an incredible job of weaving what could be an easily unravelable plot of ancestral roots, travel bugs, and sheer surfing into a flowing 35mm mural of historically sound back-story, star power (oh, Kelly Slater, I know that guy) and memorable cinematography. And, of course, a small but lasting taste of Ireland’s potential and the lingering notion that there has to be so much more out there. (Just wait until the closing XXL defying scene).
At its heart, Waveriders is a documentary, but with it’s wonderfully timed interludes and raw shredding, it often creeps into the realm of classic surf porn. Ultimately, it’s refreshing to see such a film that’s rooted in surfing that doesn’t come off rushed and incomplete.
To see the full lineup of films being featured this week at the Newport Film Festival, go to www.newportbeachfilmfest.com