EXCLUSIVE: After making his bow at Sundance last January, extreme surfer Laird Hamilton has caught his wave with Sundance Selects. The distributor has acquired U.S. rights to Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, the documentary directed by Last Days in Vietnam and Ethel helmer Rory Kennedy. The film seemed to take the baton from Riding Giants, another seminal surfing film that briefly described how Hamilton was growing from Hawaii surf rat toward the sport’s version of Chuck Yeager (the greatest fighter pilot of his era who did not participate in NASA space launches). Take Every Wave completes the ride. The ruggedly handsome Hamilton eschewed competitions and movie parts and was all about conquering fear to take on 60 foot walls of water off Hawaii, using innovations like rope tows via jet ski to access waves no surfers could get to, to adding blades below the boards to elevate above the foam to sustain longer rides on larger waves.
On the day of his press conference in Sundance, it snowed about a foot in Park City, and I swear I saw Hamilton get out of a truck on Main Street in a track suit (I think he was wearing flip flops), and push a stuck car that was stuck in the show, out of his way, like a scene in a movie. Hamilton plays that rugged hero role well in the documentary, but the film also delves into his rough and tumble upbringing, the ruthlessness he sometimes showed to former team members he felt were holding him back from his ultimate goals, and also the depressions that arose and put his marriage on the rocks, when his techniques seemed to hit the wall on the most dangerous waves, or when his body began to betray his ability to execute these impossible death defying rides that obsessed him. The film is written by Mark Bailey and Jack Youngelson, produced by Kennedy, Paul Speaker, Bailey, Youngelson, and executive produced by Jonathan S. Marshall and William Cawley.
“With Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, Rory Kennedy has traveled beyond the surf genre to create an in-depth portrait that explores the fear, courage and ambition that pushes a hard-charging athlete to greatness – and the cost that comes with it. Everyone at Sundance Selects is thrilled to be working with Rory and her team to bring this film to U.S. audiences,” said Jonathan Sehring and Lisa Schwartz, co-presidents of Sundance Selects/IFC Films.
Said Kennedy: “It’s an incredible opportunity to join forces with Sundance Selects to share Take Every Wave with a wide audience who will be able to experience the artistry of Laird Hamilton’s surfing on the big screen. More than a world renowned surfer, Laird is an inspiration whose life and accomplishments transcend the sport itself.” UTA Independent Film Group brokered the deal with Arianna Bocco.