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Newport Film Festival Rides Waves for Riding Giants Premiere

By Keiko Beatie

Hula girls
Riding Giants was the Sundance Film Festival's opening night film for 2004. During the winter Festival in snowy Park City, Utah, Sony Pictures Classics rode the big one with a dession to distribution this classic film depicting the history of big wave riding.  Directed by Stacy Peralta, who is known as one of the original Zboys of Dog Town fame, Riding Giants was written by Sam George, editor of Surfer MagazineThe Newport Beach Film Festival assisted in the July 9 West Coast Premiere of the documentary at a surf star-studded North Shore Theme party event. The maximum capacity crowd was first treated to the film's stars arriving in classic "Woodies" from the 40's and 50's escorted by bikini clad models.

Newport Beach is well known for the surf, sun and most recently the Fox hit The OC. The Newport Beach Film Festival, which is held each April, sponsors special presentations throughout the year,

"It was a natural to assist Sony Pictures with a special premiere screening of this exciting surf film" said Gregg Schwenk, executive director of the Festival. The event also was a fund-raiser for The Surfrider Foundation, an organization founded to protect the world's beaches, and Oceans of Hope, a surfer's cancer assistance organization.  The screening took place at the Lido Theater, which is now becoming known as the Surf Theater of the West Coast. 

With Riding Giants, the stars of the night were Greg "The Bull" Noll  who is famous for first riding Waimea Bay in 20 ft waves successfully in the 60's and Laird Hamilton, a Hawaiian waterman who today is arguably the best big wave rider in the world.  Both stars were on hand along with Stacy Peralta and Sam George to add a special excitement to the evening.  Many of the audience were comprised of the top people in the surf industry today.  With the major surf manufacturers just within minutes of Newport Beach, it was coming home to a family gathering for many of the tan, fit southern California surfer crowd.

Sam George auctioned off a classic “Big Gun” surfboard shaped by Rich Harbour of Harbour Surfboards, who made some of the early 60’s and 70’s big wave surfboards.  Harbour made this board just for this evening in a tribute to big wave riding.  The beautiful 10 ft big wave Rhino Chaser with balsa stringers went for a record $5,000 to the charity event. It was even more of a boost, as during the screening of Riding Giants, the crowd let go with loud hoots and screams as the waves got bigger and bigger with up to 60 foot waves being ridden by these Iron Men of Surf.

Afterward, the Lido Theater Walkway transformed into a Tiki Hut delight as guests dined on Asian inspired wok dishes and Mai Tai drinks. Entertainment was provided by a rock ukulele band and hula dancers, including an impromptu hula contest with some of the surfers shaking on stage. The movie had everyone captivated as most of the conversation was about the waves, surfers and the amazing photography.

Top picture: Big Wave Legend Laird Hamilton, left with baby, and surf fan Bottom: Surf stars arrive in style
Riding Giants opened up that weekend and Newport Beach was the second top grossing theater in the country, proving that Newport Beach Film Festival has a dynamic pulse on surf films.  Step Into Liquid when released grossed an average of $28,000, but in Newport Beach it grossed an amazing $35,000 for a surf documentary.  Riding Giants is now screening across the country to appreciative audiences.

The Newport Beach Film Festival looks to continue its special screening throughout the year and host it's Festival next April 2005.  This past year the Festival screened over 350 films, with more than 27,000 people in attendance.  For more information, visit www.newportbeachfilmfest.com



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Related Keywords:Newport Beach Film Festival ,Riding Giants , Stacy Peralta, Dog Town , Sam George, Laird Hamilton

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