Joe Guglielmino’s Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La ★★★★

Jean-Claude Van Damme levels of cool as the film takes surfing to Iceland.

Jean-Claude Van Damme levels of cool as the film takes surfing to Iceland.

James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon discovers and describes Shangri-La as a fictional paradise; a search for the apotheosis of utopian existence in our world. It is both within and without, being an island located outside of the known world, yet within it at the same time. The very title of this self-proclaimed psychedelic surf experience is one that mystifies, confuses yet entices the spectator, as it enticed us at neighbourhood noise. The supernatural, mystic nature that surrounded the film’s release were transposed to Victoria Park for the evening in an attempt to capture the worldly experiences that the surfers and crew from Globe encountered. The cryptic directions given online to actually find the film only contributed to this mysticism: ‘The Pagoda, Victoria Park’. It doesn’t help if you naively don’t know what a Pagoda is and are then thrown into an enormous park on the outskirts of London. It also doesn’t help when every other person in the park have no idea what a Pagoda is. Regardless, we eventually stumbled upon the infamous Pagoda in Victoria Park, and when realising that it is a tiered tower building often found in historic East Asia and quite a remarkable landscape in the park, an overwhelming sense of embarrassment waved over us. With our new found knowledge, Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La was beginning to make even more sense. Tiki huts, a free colourful food stand serving indian street food and a free bar set within a culturally aware tent all surrounded the Pagoda, embracing the many different cultures that Globe and the surfers experienced on their travels; an intimate touch to share their encounters with a unknowing audience. Upon arriving, we instantly knew this would be more than just an ordinary premiere of a film – this was to be an experience. A belly dancer allured people out of their comfort zones to join her in her dance and rewarded them with an ominous key; this key unlocked a locker containing Globe surf boards, skate boards and goodie boxes – before the film even began, the event celebrated the way in which surfing is accompanied with a gross appreciation of varying cultures. Four free cobras in, we took our seats on the cushions and rugs provided, and under a reddening sky, the 16mm film began to roll. Globe’s use of 16mm film gave the film an incredibly authentic edge. As the surfers travelled the world from Iceland to Mozambique, each location was captured through long surf scenes accompanied by an inspiring soundtrack. The shots, the surf and the 16mm cameras were the focus of the film as the three combined to create a beautifully poetic representation of an extreme sport. The psychedelic nature of the film was captured in the opening scene where the focus of the film was made apparent: the beauties of surfing. Some of the world’s best surfers were captured in this authentic film leaving the audience’s jaws dropped throughout. The soundtrack in conjunction with the 16mm film created a supernatural feel to the extreme sport, enhancing the poetical and artistic nature of surfing. The surfers travelled the world in search for the perfect wave – the Shangri-La of surfing. Although there was only a slight documentation of the actual travels, the way in which the director uses intermittent shots to capture an aspect of the country’s culture whilst shooting the surfers in action creates a photo montage effect demonstrating the power of film and photography. The focus of the film was to illustrate the artistic effects of 16mm film and how that contributes to the psychedelic surf experiences that the film encourages. The whole experience of this premiere was inspiring; the beauty of surfing as a sport was undeniably present and the coming together of man and nature through film, music and sport demonstrates how the film is the epitome of artistic and sporting talent. Globe proved that Shangri-La can be achieved through creative and interactive art.

 

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