Momentum Generation made its World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in the documentary competition section. Notably, the film received a second place Audience Award proving Tribeca movie goers drew inspiration from the film. Seamlessly directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist, the work offers an insiders’ look at the surfing generation that brought the sport into the mainstream.
Clearly, the archival footage helps to make this film a classic. Above all, it includes unprecedented revelations from the past cobbled together with present-day interviews. Indeed, the directors offer a comprehensive perspective for surfing fans and those intrigued by the sport. Importantly, the directors’ themes reveal how surfing legends applied talent, grit, and prodigious effort to rise to the top of their game. And through the interviews, the directors show how these legends became their own inter-competitive team. As they encouraged, competed, had fun together, they never lost sight of the prize. All competed to become world champions. Then, each grasped the opportunities afforded them to advance their careers as well as the sport.
Importantly, the Zimbalists use Taylor Steele’s clips from his personal archives, and it is this invaluable contribution that enriches the “momentum generation’s” story. Also a surfer, Steele produced and directed surfing films. His addition of a rock music score highlighting the rhythms of his friends cresting on waves with facile grace stunned watchers of the sport in the 1990s. The application of the rock music never conceived of before served as a crossover propelling interest in the particular rock bands and surfing. Finally, the Zimbalist’s joy and love of this subject play throughout the film. Not only does this enthusiasm abide throughout the interviews, also, it is apparent in the selection of film clips, and these transcend the surfers’ nascent beginnings and move to their championships. Indeed, this heady emotional feel empowers the documentary.
Essentially, the arc of the film shadows the surfing kingpins who became tight family in Oahu, Hawaii. Principally rounding out the amigos are Rob Marchado, Shane Dorian, Kelly Slater, Taylor Knox, Ross Williams, Benji Weatherley, Kahlani Robb, Taylor Steele, and Pat O’Connell. Of course, other greats make their way into the film. Notably, the Zimbalists trace each of these legends interspersing film clips with current interviews. Intriguingly, all differ in greatness, yet all achieved it. Thus the film populates with stunning contrasts and comparisons.
Raised in various locations, the surfers ended up first in California. From there they made their way to Hawaii and bunked at Benji Weatherley’s house. Assuredly, as Benji’s house became a focal point, seeds of their mythic history grew. For at the Weatherley’s which fronted the beach, numerous surfers bonded at this new home. Because Benji’s mom figuratively adopted and nurtured them, they could relax and get down to surfing greatness. Thus, they encouraged and provoked each other toward the sublime. Succeeding at pipeline. Also in the process, they broke records, won titles, changed the sport forever.
As far back in surfing history as one may remember, Hawaii’s north shore was the stuff of legend. Surfers from Australia to California cut their teeth on the pipeline, and there they succeeded riding the waves to their glory, or they smashed necks, backs, ribs, limbs, recuperated, or died. For the “momentum generation” it was about the pipeline. Successfully conquering it, they reached into the stars. As a result they turned pro, won world championships, became famous. The alternative held no alternatives for these surfing icons. Thus, the Zimbalists reveal how this incredibly talented group employed their ambition, work ethic, and camaraderie. Although their competitive edge led to pitfalls in relationships, ultimately good will and friendship bonds overcame difficulties.
Finally, Momentum Generation succeeds because it entertains with gobsmacking visuals, with a fine musical score, and compelling story about a great sport before commercialism completely took over. For fans and surfing neophytes alike, the inspiration to persevere to greatness shines throughout the documentary. Indeed, we need such an uplift in these times, in all times.