On Thursday night a packed cinema sat in awe at the world premiere of Thundercloud. Talon Clemow from One Palm Media spent two years compiling footage and interviews from Cloudbreak pioneers and surfers who experienced the famed June 2012 swell first hand. Thundercloud sets a new benchmark for surf documentaries with a film that will not only appeal to surfers but mainstream audiences. The cinematography and production values are second to none. Interview subjects range from the world’s best surfers to Fijian political identities, and provide a historical context about the former exclusivity of the break and the key moments that led up to that defining swell.
Footage of Mark Healey and Kohl Christensen’s account of paddling over a 25-foot mountain rendered the audience slack jawed, however it is the moment by moment recaps from the surfers which really suck you in. Dave Wassel has some of the best analogies in the business and in reference to the abovementioned wave recalls, “When that wave came through it was like someone flipped on the light switch and the roaches just ran.”
The film doesn’t shy away from controversy either. The ASP’s decision to put the competition on hold is scrutinised from every angle by big wave surfers and the top 34. ASP contest director Chris Wilson explains his motives behind calling off competition while Mark Healey hints that there were two types of surfers that day. “All of us made it very clear that if they wanted to use our boards if the competition continued that our boards were available to them. So they can’t say they didn’t have the best big wave equipment on the planet at their disposal.” Meanwhile Joel Parkinson’s confession that they should have had a go on that day reveals his lingering sense of regret.
Hearing a biblical day vividly recalled by big wave surfers and the top 34 with so much detail gives you an idea to how historic that session really was. But watching huge waves thunder so symmetrically down a reef as these men so smoothly scoop up and into the waves of their lives is like nothing we’ve seen before. Talon has managed to weave a story that recounts a pivotal moment in surf culture that will sink into our minds forever.
There will be a selective run of Thundercloud screenings to coincide with the Australian leg of the ASP World Tour. For a full run of dates and event details visit One Palm Media on Facebook and give them a follow on instagram @talon1palmmedia
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