Film Review: The Search for Freedom
Directed by Jon Long
ITM FILM AND THE EARTH NETWORK
We’ve gotten lots of documentaries about surfing, skating, and other types of action sports over the years—from the Endless Summer movies to Dogtown & Z Boys to IMAX Extreme. That latter was directed by Jon Long, who also made this new film that tackles the action sports movement in general, telling a cultural history of the people who pioneered these various endeavors—from skateboarding to surfing, from mountain biking to BASE jumping—while also indulging us with plenty of great footage and elegies to human freedom. It’s a tough balancing act: there’s a lot to get through, and at times, it’s hard to know exactly what to focus on. But Long’s heart is in the right place, and as interview subject after interview subject expounds on their obsession with liberation—with finding a way to transcend mundane reality—the film takes on an aspirational quality. Such woozy poetry also has a flipside: Some of these interviewees talk about trying to find a way to live while pursuing their passions, as well as the challenges they had to go through in order to do so. (Remember, being a skater wasn’t always considered cool.) While what emerges at times resembles a particularly well-made infomercial—Snow is clearly preaching to a choir that adores these types of activities, not to mention these types of movies—it is undeniably entertaining, and surprisingly visceral.