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San Sebastian: Features by Rory Kennedy, Jennifer Peedom Play Savage Cinema

Serge Hazanavicius' 'To The Top,' with Berenice Bejo, marks sidebar's first fiction movie

MADRID  —  “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” by Oscar-nominated docu filmmaker Rory Kennedy (“Last Days in Vietnam”) and Australian Jennifer Peedom’s documentary “Mountain” figure among the six titles playing at San Sebastian Festival’s 5th Savage Cinema sidebar.

A pioneering initiative to profile many of the year’s best action sports/adventure productions at an A-grade festival, Savage Cinema was launched in 2013 by San Sebastian, in partnership with Red Bull Media House. During the upcoming 65th San Sebastian edition, Savage Cinema will focus on the exceptional lives of surfers Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny, the discovery of Desert Point, and the fascination of climbing summits.

In “Take Every Wave,” Kennedy, who also won an Emmy Award in 2007 with “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” tells the story of the iconic American athlete Laird Hamilton, who changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, the docu marks an in-depth portrait of a hard-charging surfer exploring the fear, courage and ambition that push a man to greatness – and the cost that comes with it.

Produced by Moxie Firecracker Films, “Take Every Wave” premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival.

Jennifer Peedom, winner of a Bafta best documentary nomination for “Sherpa” in 2016, will present the Dogwoof-sold production “Mountain,” a poetical feature narrated by Willen Dafoe, it honors the beauty of summits and explores the human obsession with them.

Peedom’s cinematic and musical collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra will receive a special premiere at San Sebastian, teaming with the Bilbao Mendi Film Festival.

The first fiction movie to appear in Savage Cinema, French production “To The Top,” helmed by Serge Hazanavicius and starring Berenice Bejo, tells a tale about how a surfers’ paradise in Indonesia was found and kept a secret for years.

Among other Savage Cinema players is adventure photographer Chris Burkard’s “Under an Arctic Sky” a medium-feature that won an audience award at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival.

“Arctic Sky,” follows six surfers, along with Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland, as they seek out unknown swell in the remote fjords of Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

Helmed by John Decesare, U.S. production “Paradigm Lost” portrays the progression and connectivity with the ocean by multi-time world champion surfer Kai Lenny.

A recurring theme in the Savage Cinema program, the search for paradise returns this edition with Ira Opper’s “Secrets of Desert Point.” Oppers, a pioneer producer and distributor of action sports content, recovers film images recorded by Californian surfer Bill Heick, lending shape to a savage surf discovery that had remained secret for 40 years.

The 65th San Sebastian Film Festival runs Sept. 22-30.

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