SAN SEBASTIAN — New York-based Submarine Entertainment has acquired world sales rights to Takuji Masuda’s “Bunker77,” a feature length documentary on the life of surfing legend Bunker Spreckels.
“Bunker77” world premiered Sept. 22 at the San Sebastian Festival’s Savage Cinema section.
The documentary, winner in March of a Work in Progress award at the Sun Valley Film Festival’s The Film Lab, will debut in the U.S. at October’s Hamptons Festival, where Edward Norton, a “Bunker77” exec producer, will present the screening.
“Bunker 77” chronicles the extraordinary figure of Bunker Spreckels, Clark Gable’s stepson, heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune, a surfer, but also a big game hunter, martial arts aficionado, wild man and self-styled player who dressed like a pimp.
Spreckels attempted to earn immortality by hiring Craig Stecyk, a chronicler of California surf and skate scene, and photographer Art Brewer to capture his life. The project collapsed with his early death in 1977, from a heroine overdose, at the age of 27.
Written, directed and produced by Masuda, a former Japanese surfing champion who studied the life of Bunker Spreckels for 20 years, “Bunker77” is set up at Endangered Spirit, Masuda’s Switzerland-based outfit.
Often via achieve footage, the documentary features Laird Hamilton, Tony Alva, Johnny Knoxville, Rory Russell, Kenneth Anger, Ellie Silva, Bunker Spreckels himself and Clark Gable.
Co-produced by Stecyk and Brewer, “Bunker77’s” filmmaking has been supervised by Stephen Gaghan, an Academy Award winner for “Traffic,” as well as many other surf filmmakers such as Mike Judge and Joel Kinnaman.
According to Masuda, “the film will appeal not only to the roughly 20 million surfers worldwide, but it has proven cross over interest for urban tastemakers,” as demonstrated by the successive editions of the Masuda-written book “Bunker Spreckels, Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence,” which Taschen published in 2007.
“The spirit of Bunker symbolizes what would be the opposite side of the spectrum to the performance-based athletic surfing that has been recently accepted into the Olympics from 2020 Tokyo Games,” Masuda said.
He added: “Bunker represents the rebellious nature of the surfing tribe that still attempts to be individualistic in this global society.”
Also a distribution and production company, Submarine has been involved in the last three Academy Award winning documentaries: “Citizenfour,” “20 Feet From Stardom” and “Searching for Sugarman.”
Yokohama-born Takuji Masuda was a publisher of Super X Media, that brought surfing and street art cultures together in the 90s. He is currently enrolled in the MFA program in cinematic media production at Malibu’s Pepperdine University.