THE SEARCH FOR FREEDOM (Jon Long, 2014)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves.
Wednesday, June 10, $15, 7:00
In 2000, Jon Long set out to follow up his forty-five-minute Extreme: An IMAX Experience with a feature film about the action sports revolution, but after beginning his interviews in 2004, he decided to focus on one concept that kept coming up: freedom. Ten years later, Long completed the project and has now released The Search for Freedom, a visually stunning examination of extreme action athletes and what drives them to risk their lives participating in dangerous sports involving the natural world and environment. “The basic instinct of a human being is his search for freedom, and still, the search for freedom is within all of us,” ski filmmaking trailblazer Warren Miller says early on. Long talks with an all-star cast of pioneers, legends, icons, visionaries, and champions, including skateboarders Tony Hawk, Danny Way, and Tom Schaar, surfers Kelly Slater, Meg Roh, and Steve Pezman, big mountain snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Annie Boulanger, free skiers Shane McConkey and Logan Laplante, mountain bike co-inventor Gary Fisher, street skater Nyjah Houston, windsurfer Robby Naish, mountain climber Ron Kauk, daredevil Robbie Maddison, Endless Summer director Bruce Brown, and others, combining interviews with mind-blowing archival and contemporary footage of men and women taking on extreme athletic challenges for the sheer rush and adventure, not for money and fame. “Whether you’re young or old, male or female, it’s the same thing. It’s that thrill of the first ride, and once it gets under your skin, you can never stop,” says surfer and Quicksilver founder Bob McKnight.
The Search for Freedom is filled with amazing shots of these athletes base jumping off sheer rocks, snowboarding down impossibly steep mountains, mountain biking thousands of feet up, performing unbelievable skateboard tricks, and surfing through enormous waves, all with an infectious exhilaration. Perhaps most extraordinary is the story of Glenn Singleman, an Australian ER doctor who is also a wingsuit pilot and world record holder who flies through the air with his wife, Heather Swan, and discusses a genetic component to what makes extreme athletes do what they do. “You instantly feel like nothing else in the world exists, nothing else matters. You’re living in the moment,” explains stand-up paddle boarder Kai Lenny, revealing the so-called “zone” that paradoxically makes these sports meditation as much as action. The Search for Freedom soars over and across land, sea, and sky, revealing remarkable moment after remarkable moment. A film festival favorite, The Search for Freedom is having a special one-time-only screening in theaters across the country on June 10; here in New York City, it will be shown at 7:00 at the Landmark Sunshine on the Lower East Side.