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Tribeca 2018 Review: “Momentum Generation” (2018) ★★★★★


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We always love admiring athletes of any kind when we watch them on TV, or in the life of social network, tweets and all other platform where we share our thoughts, criticize them based on tabloid reports whether it is true or unconfirmed rumor, yet we still do it. But I hope that will change after seeing Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s documentary feature “Momentum Generation” which brings an insight to the most heartwarming, warm and yet, sad friendship between the surfers, their ups and downs, the great moment of loss, redemption and getting back on their feet again through a heart-aching journey where you will be left into a land of sadness and happiness at the same time.

The opening scene quickly shapes the narrative of the film that we are not invited to see just as an average docufilm but rather something very special, personal and unique. It opens with personal stories each surfer shares, their background, some of them coming from an abusive family or why they needed to create a world for themselves where one can hold onto it as the most treasured thing they could ever have. Then, the story of surfing begins through legendary surfers such as Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Kalani Robb, Taylor Steel, Taylor Knox, Pat O’Connell, Benji Weatherley, Todd Chesser’s mother Jeannie and his fiancé.

Before the world of surfing begun circulating in media and in people’s mind, it was Australia who world-dominated that sport until the group of Hawaiians decided to enter the world of professional competitive surfing in the 1990s mentored by Todd Chesser. Despite Chesser not being their direct trainer, he was a dear friend, an inspiration and the source of their depression and absence from brotherhood they had created after Chesser’s tragic death. As the film examines their troubles and even struggles as surfers, their friendship was also at stake as at some point compatriots of today become competitors of each other tomorrow.

Amazingly narrated, touching story told with heart, “Momentum Generation” delivers that subtle moment of the young surfers that elevated surfing to unprecedented heights and popularity to inspire even the generation after. Through the dramatic context, the film is being build up slowly to bring the viewer to the moment when tears would be very hard to control from falling. The Zimbalist’s humane and thoughtful touch with the story is felt throughout the film as they delivered what was needed for any viewer to be emotionally connected with every second of the film and have a better understanding that what is beautifully seen on the surface, there is always pain lying under.

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