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Itw | 18 aprile 2009

Il Surf Inventato Da Un Irlandese ? – Sul nuovo numero di Huck Magazine di questo mese esce un’ intervista a Joel Conroy, regista di Waveriders, il film appena uscito sul big wave surfing in Irlanda, ma non solo. Il film infatti vuole mettere in luce le vere origini del surf, solitamente legate alla Polinesia prima e alla California poi, analizzandole da un altro punto di vista, quello del suo padre irlandese. George Freeth, conosciuto anche come “Il padre del surf moderno” è nato e cresciuto a Waikiki, ma il suo sangue ha radici in temperature più fredde. Freeth è nato da padre irlandese nel 1883, e l’intervista di Huck Magazine, curata da Kezia Clark, cerca di scoprire di più su Waveriders e sulle origini irlandesi del surfing. Qui sotto il testo in lingua originale dell’intervista a Joel Conroy. Nella sezione video invece trovate la teaser del film. How and when did you become interested in surfing?
 After finishing film school in Ireland, I got a job with MTV in Australia and I learnt how to surf out there. I came back to Ireland, started working in the film industry and spent every moment of free time I had going to the West Coast of Ireland to surf. This was in the early nineties, so surfing wasn’t such a big thing over here then. Surfers started coming over to Ireland from Teahupoo, Pipeline and G-Land and were saying that the Irish just didn’t know what they had.
 What inspired you to base a film around the story of George Freeth?
 A while back I was at the airport in London reading the newspaper and in the letters to the editor on the sports page somebody had written the question, ‘Is it true that it was an Irishman that invented surfing?’ The editor replied, ‘Half-right, it was a Hawaiian/Irishman who re-invented the sport of surfing’. Nothing much was known about George Freeth so I did a journey of discovery for about a year trying to find out more about this character. As I found out more about him I became fascinated and thought it would make a really interesting film. Was your aim to promote Irish surfing through the film?
 I made it to tell the story of the surfers who pioneered wave riding, both globally and in Ireland. The main thing was to show people how beautiful the ocean is. I wanted to use a camera to take the viewer inside the waves and inside the world of a surfer so they could get an insight into a culture of people. It wasn’t just about the exposure of Irish surfing. 
 Do you think your film will help put Irish surf spots such as Bundoran on the map, and encourage people to try surfing in Ireland?
 I think it will have that effect. The film hasn’t been released yet – but when the stills were sent out around the world it sent shockwaves, especially in America. People were freaking out – they couldn’t believe we had waves like that in Ireland.
 You worked with surfers Gabe Davies and Richard Fitzgerald for your 2004 film /The Eye of the Storm/. Was it good to be reunited? It’s always nice to work with Gabe and Richard; it’s just a total pleasure. I get to spend time with them surfing, but not enough as I would have liked in the last couple of years. 
 How did the crew stay warm during the filming in Ireland?
 With great difficulty [laughs]. We had a lot of damp, cold, miserable days but everyone’s fit, all the surfers and camera crew, they’re all water people and always enthusiastic about it so it doesn’t take much to motivate people, no matter what the conditions are.
The surfers in the film talk about the lifestyle differences between soul surfers, competitive pros and guys addicted to big-wave tow-in surfing. Did you plan to raise these issues?
 We only touched on it in the film, but yes, we wanted to show the different lifestyles of surfers. It all stemmed from the development of surfing right from the guys that started surfing around the same time as Freeth. Like with any sport, surfing has a commercial aspect. I’m always curious about how professional athletes generate their money through sponsorship, so I thought it would be nice to show the different ways that surfers make their livelihoods.
 What surf films do you enjoy watching?
 I love all of the Malloys’ films, one of my favourites is The September Sessions, and Riding Giants is just incredible.
 What was your favourite part of making the film?
 The absolute adrenalin rush of filming the final sequence. It sees the surf get meatier than you could ever imagine possible in Ireland, and reaches a spectacular climax when the surfers conquer the biggest swell ever to have been ridden in Ireland, catching monster waves of over fifty feet.
Waveriders will be in UK cinemas on April 3, 2009. Articolo di Kezia Clark. Check out HUCK #014, out now.  


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