Review: ‘Singlefin: Yellow’

Jason Baffa's 16mm-lensed surfing docu "Singlefin: Yellow" reps -- like the titular item -- a handcrafted throwback to earlier eras. Disarming feature follows an old-school longboard as it traverses the globe, presented from one surfer to another as a sort of 12-foot chain-letter. More than high-gloss recent theatrical releases "Step Into Liquid" and "Billabong Odyssey," pic's intimate charm captures surfing's pure pleasure, making it a delightful armchair-travel movie rather than an extreme-sports dazzler.

Jason Baffa’s 16mm-lensed surfing docu “Singlefin: Yellow” reps — like the titular item — a handcrafted throwback to earlier eras. Disarming feature follows an old-school longboard as it traverses the globe, presented from one surfer to another as a sort of 12-foot chain-letter. More than high-gloss recent theatrical releases “Step Into Liquid” and “Billabong Odyssey,” pic’s intimate charm captures surfing’s pure pleasure, making it a delightful armchair-travel movie rather than an extreme-sports dazzler. It’s likely to have long shelf life in home formats. “Singlefin” has been playing one-off hardtop gigs along the West Coast.

Fascinated by the peak mid-’60s era of longboard surfing (boards grew shorter/lighter afterward), Northern Californian Tyler Hatzikian began making his own at age 12. He now does it professionally, crafting one to send to friends. Shipped via jumbo plastic case, banana-colored board goes first to second-gen surfer Beau Young on Australia’s North Coast; then David Kinoshita in Japan (where sport was intro’d by Yankee G.I.’s). Malibu, San Diego and Oahu follow. Each temp owner narrates seg. Imaginatively shot/edited package has an especially good soundtrack of cuts by little-known bands. List of those thanked in final credits includes “beer.”

Singlefin: Yellow

Docu

Production

A Singlefin Prods. presentation in association with Build Worldwide. Produced, directed by Jason Baffa.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm), Baffa; editor, Carl Cramer; music supervisors, John Katovsich, Daryl Berg. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Nov. 21, 2003. Running time: 69 MIN.

With

Tyler Hatzikian, David Kinoshita, Beau Young, Devon Howard, Daize Shayne, Bonga Perkins.
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