An enthusiastic hometown crowd made up of family, friends and fans gathered last night at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach for the premier of Timmy Turner’s newest film, The Tsunami Diaries. As a feature of the Newport Film Festival, TSD was presented in much the same way that film festivals treat their entries, with pitches for the festival sponsors kicking off the night and a Q&A with the filmmakers following the feature.
Making the evening even more special was a clearly healthy and happy Timmy Turner smiling from ear-to-ear as he greeted friends and well-wishers as the crowd arrived. It was hard to believe that a mere four months ago we were all wondering if Timmy would pull-through a life-threatening staph infection, and here he was in living color!
The Tsunami Diaries follows the story of Timmy and lifelong friend Dustin “D-Hump” Humphries as they search to find ways to help following the devastating tsunami that struck Indonesia in December 2004.
As “Indo” veterans, Timmy and Dustin have deep ties to the country, and their sincere concern and desire to give back is evident from the first frame. In his own naive Gumpishness, Timmy seems to cut to the heart of the matter by stating simply that they have to do something, at the very least chronicle what is going on. Dustin’s connection is a bit more direct in that he is married to Meyah, a beautiful Indonesian woman who is worried about her homeland.
Joining the crew is Michelle Turner, Timmy’s mom and beloved owner of HB’s venerable Sugar Shack, who takes herself so fvar out of her comfort zone that she emerges as the real adventurer on the mission.
The noble tribe arrives in Padang with vague plans to join up with the SurfAid mission, but when they touch down they are informed that there is no room for a bunch of “surf journalists” on the SurfAid vessel.
As fate would have it, three other “surf journos’ and adventure hounds, Matt George, Bill Sharp and aussie David Sparkes, happen to be staying at the same hotel in padang looking for ways to chronicle what was haapening to some of the surf world’s most revered surfspots.
As the enormity of the crisis begins to sink in, the crew quickly changes their mission from “reportage” to an actual “relief” effort, dubbed the Surfzone Relief Operation, or SRO. They institute a military style command structure, assign individual jobs to each of the team members and set about the task of securing “materiel” and transport to get relief supplies to villages that were not yet receiving aid.
The footage of the supply mission is compelling as you get to see a real-world example of a job getting done “surfer-style.” under the radar and as pragmatic and expedient as can be. What would have taken traditional aid organizations weeks to accomplish, the SRO crew pulls off in 72 hours.
Joining the crew are three Indonesian doctors who agree to undertake this mission of mercy having just met the team and without any real idea of where they were going, what they would find or how they would deal.
The rest of the film chronicles the encounters they have with villages that had not seen help since the tsunami. The tragedy is evident throughout, but the life force of the people, their gratitude for the assistance and the way the experience impacted and changed our protaginists is inspiring and uplifiting.
Special mention needs to be made of the people behind the camera who chronicled the mission, but also made full and complete contributions to the aid effort itself, at times carrying supplies over razor-sharp coral while simultaeneously shootuing video.
The soundtrack and graphics also perfectly compliment the film in that they are clearly homegrown and grassroots,, but amazingly effective at setting a tone and telling the story.
Finally, it is the story itself and the characters in it that leave one thinking about the film long after the lights come up. If faced with this crisis and this opportunity, how many modern-day surfers who are accustomed to luxury boat trips and sterile surf camps would have been able to nut-up and get this job done. It’s a question that we should all ask ourselves, because you just never know…