Last summer my friend Zack sent me the trailer for a film about a surf contest in rural Papua New Guinea. We'd both traveled to that village, we'd stayed in those houses and surfed those waves. And we'd hung out with the film's protagonist, Ezekiel (AKA Eskelly, AKA 50-Cent…he looks just like 50-Cent), every day. At the time, the documentary, Splinters, was coming to the Newport Film Festival. But like American Idol, Splinters showed on the East Coast before it did here. So I went for the spoiler and spoke with my friend Scott in New York, who I knew had attended the Tribeca Film Festival the night before.
The convo went like so:
Me: Did you see that movie Splinters?
Scott: Yeah, I did. It was really f–kin' good.
Me: Really? I've been to that village twice and know all of the characters in the movie. I can't wait to see it.
Scott: No way. They were there last night.
Me: Wait. Who? Ezekiel was there?
Scott: Yeah. The movie was really good, and I hate that type of shit.
If Ezekiel was in New York that meant he'd be coming here. I emailed Adam Pesce, the films creator. Is he coming? "Indeed, Ezekiel's coming," he wrote, and invited me to the press screening at the San Clemente Surfing Heritage Foundation. Zack was my date.
We arrived excited to see the movie, but also to see our friend. We saw both and both were epic. Eskelly was quiet and wearing far more clothes than we'd ever seen on him (just boardies in the village). He still looked like 50-Cent. He gave us hugs.
Splinters was a spot-on representation of village life — locals with sunny smiles, surfing, domestic violence, surfing, local drama, sexism and surfing. It illustrates the village's quirks through a story about Eskelly and his friends training for the Papua New Guinea national surf contest. To capture it all, Pesce learned their local language and immersed himself in the village for months. He then returned with hundreds of hours of footage and made a story. A story that's earned Best Documentary awards at Surfer Poll, London Surf Film Festival and the Hawaii International Flim Festival. It's a story that's raising awareness. And it's a story that's making guys like Scott, guys who hate that type of shit, say that it's really f–cking good.—Taylor Paul
Splinters is screening for one night only this Saturday, February 11 at 6:30pm at Bird's Surf Shed in San Diego. Adam Pesce will answer questions after. There will also be free booze. Click here for tickets http://splintersmovie.eventbrite.com/