Top Picks: Kona Surf Film Festival


This Friday at The Ace Hotel Palm Springs, the Kona Surf Film Festival takes place. What can you anticipate? Sweating balls, for one. Temperatures are expected to reach 114 degrees Fahrenheit (really bloody hot, in Celsius) in the dusty desert town, so what better way to spend it than dipping in and out of the pool while watching some of the best surf shorts in the biz.

Carefully curated by Chad Campbell, the films in this year’s festival embody the adventurous spirit of some of our favorite surfers as they chase swells all over the world. The event will run alongside the Palm Springs International Shortfest, and all proceeds will benefit Surfrider Foundation. If you’re planning on attending and want to know what to look forward to, or if you’re still on the fence and need a little pushing in the right direction (ie east on E Canyon Palms Drive), we’ve put together our picks for the festival. So grab a plate, load up some sweet potatoes and enjoy the buffet. Just don’t touch the chicken nuggets. Never touch the chicken nuggets.


We featured this film, directed by Chris Malloy, a couple weeks back one the site. Watching this on a big projection on a balmy night with a Piña colada in hand and the wind at your back seems like an unbeatable feat, and we don’t wanna steal Kona’s thunder, but if you can’t make it out to Palm Springs, do yourself a favor and watch it here. Tears all those inspirational bumper sticker quotes to shreds. Also, we were joking about the wind. It’s going to be hot as balls, remember?




Directed by Blake Vincent Kueny & John John Florence, Enjoy is a cinematic showoff. Shot on a RED, the film documents John John’s black and white travels throughout Europe. The film is so euro, it makes a Parisian patisserie look like a KFC. Might wanna watch on mute though, unless you’re a fan of the Mad Wax style soundtrack.




Director Tyler Manson is a legend of the highest order. Team him up with everyone’s favorite surfer, Rob Machado, and you have yourselves a real fine pair of gentlemen. Together they follow Jay Nelson, a San Francisco based artist specializing in a unique type of automobile customization. Over the winter, he decked out Rob’s van to create a surf mobile like no other. If Jack Johnson hosted Pimp My Ride on MTV, they’d all come out looking like this.



Steph Gilmore is a champ. Not just in the professional sense, but in the everyday sense, too. It’s so fun to watch her surf, because it’s obvious she’s having so much fun and that stuff is contagious. I’ve come down with a bout before, and it’s no joke. In Stephanie, Morgan Maassen found a way to capture her beauty both on the wave and off of it. All these films are beautiful, and we’re trying not to play favourite, but this one might just take the cake. It’s worth watching now, and it’s worth watching again at The Ace.



If you are one of the four people in the world who hasn’t seen Point Break, you’re not gonna get this. For everyone else, how cute is this? If In Doubt, Paddle Out, is a clever, quirky short film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Written & Directed by Andrew R. Blackman, this homage to one of the greatest but dumbest surf films ever is worth a look.




Ok, ok, I know it’s another film by Morgan Maassen in the list, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and say, ‘You know what? The guy is one of the best.’ I’ve had to do it with Lebron James, and now I’m following suit with Morgan. Not only does the guy know how to hold a camera, but his mind is loopy and creative as hell, and in Warren Smith, he’s met his match. The film is an intimate peek into the psychie of Warren, and the whole thing is worth watching for his responses to Morgan’s psychoanalytical questions, like when Morgan asks, ‘If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?’ and Warren responds, ‘I’d be me, probably, I guess.’



‘I first found myself thinking about Angola years back when I was surfing in Namibia. I saw these huge lines going up the coast and I thought ‘there has to be waves in the next country.’ I took them up, and there was Angola. I simply bought a ticket, and headed there by myself to see what I could find.’  Are you fucking kidding me, Kevin Voegtlin? Do you know what it felt like watching your film from my desk? What the hell am I doing with my life?

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