A film narrated by Hugh Masekela’s son Selema – an irreverent take on the Endless Summer – comes full circle when it premieres this month at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town – the same venue where the original film was first seen in Africa in 1966.
The African premiere of Sweet Adventure by Emmy Award-winning South African filmmaker Peter Hamblin will take place at the Labia Theatre to close a circle that has lasted since 1966, when the father of South African surfing John Whitmore showed Endless Summer for the first time in Africa.
While Hamblin brings a Hollywood flair to Sweet Adventure, Masekela’s acerbic narration ironically contrasts with the quaintness of Bruce Brown’s dialogue in Endless Summer, the most watched feature documentary of all-time.
As humans burst out of the confines of the pandemic lockdowns, cleverly spun links to the famous film drive an attempt to find the essence of “sweet” adventure. The stars of the 1994 sequel, Endless Summer 2, Pat O’Connell and Roberg Wingnut Weaver also appear, followed by a cameo by Dana Brown, son of Bruce, who directed and narrated the original.
“Dad would talk about the joy of adventure. The beauty of the experience. The love of the unknown. It’s a joy that lives with us long after the last wave fades,” Brown says.
To rekindle this old school spirit of adventure, three Californian proponents of the carefree, sunkissed culture of surfing and skateboarding Albee Layer, Matt Meola, and Nora Vasconcellos embark on a surf trip to El Salvadore, the small central American country on the Pacific coast.
Masekela’s experience as a celebrated American television host, sports commentator, and actor comes to the fore in the film. His cynical wit and dry disdain for modern attitudes are the perfect foil to Hamblin’s flamboyant use of camera technique and editing. The son of a Haitian mother and Hugh Masekela, Selema was born in Los Angeles in 1971 at the height of Apartheid. As a youngster in southern California, he found a love for adventure sports, including surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding.
Between fascinating cultural interactions in El Salvador, the trio of two well known surfers Layer and Meola, and champion skateboarder Vasconcellos discover pristine spots along a spectacular coastline. They succeed in finding the magic they seek – the zeitgeist of their ‘sweet adventure’.
Sweet Adventure has been dubbed a masterpiece by critics who know Hamblin from his early projects Let’s Be Frank – an Emmy Award-winning documentary that follows Cape Town big wave surfer Frank Solomon; and RISS, which profiles the life and career of multiple world champion Carissa Moore.
The film will be screened in partnership with the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Festival on Friday 26 August at the Labia Theatre, followed by an after party at the Athletic Social Club. Tickets can be found at Quicket.co.za here https://qkt.io/tTc5Nv.
Demi Taylor and Chris Nelson from the London Surf Film Festival, where the film was screened to sellout crowds, said that Hamblin had created a new film genre.
“Surf movies, for the most part, fall into distinct categories. There’s the part film, the documentary, the travel adventure, the biopic. Then there’s the Peter Hamblin way. Nothing is off the table. There’s a certain sprinkling of magic dust that’s hard to describe. It’s like turning the dial up to 11,” they said.
While Sweet Adventure was a film about adventure, it was more than that. It was about the things that humans have been missing, partly perhaps because of Covid, but also because of the noisy clamor that modern life had become.
“Sweet Adventure wears its heart on its sleeve – it has the soul of a surf travel classic. While Endless Summer may be the landmark of the genre, for most people it’s the follow up that is imprinted on their grommet-hood. And it isn’t long before Endless Summer 2 protagonists Pat O’Connell and Wingnut appear on screen, with the Force clearly still strong with them, the timeless chemistry serving as a spirit animal to drive the film forward.
“Combining jaw dropping surfing, stunning cinematography, secret spots, helicopters, bowl riding, new discoveries, good times and more, this must-see travelogue stirs the wanderlust, reignites the stoke and reminds us all of just what we’ve been missing – those good times shared with old friends in new places,” they said.