Monday, 12 May 2008

Surfwise or not so clever? You decide.

I happened across this trailer on YouTube the other day and was intrigued to find out more. Surfwise chronicles the fascinating journey of "Doc" Paskowitz, his wife Juliette and their nine kids. This Jewish man meets his life partner in Juliette and they immediately start a family which just keeps on growing. After two failed marriages, "Doc" packs up his conventional life and goes Bohemian, living off the earth while teaching people how to surf.The family travels around in a 24' cramped trailer – all eleven of them, eating healthy, educating the children 'at home', and surfing everyday. To fund essentials, the Paskowitzs founded a surf school and "Doc" would occasionally take low-level medical positions.

The children became champion surfers and the family featured in more than a few magazine articles and on television. Although many outsiders perceived this nomadic lifestyle idyllic, as the children matured into young adults they started to rebel against "Doc." He was unyielding, offering them few options and as the children left the fold several became estranged from their parents and from each other.

This film comprises inteviews with "Doc" and his family, combined with original footage and photos from the family's travels. What makes the film so appealing is the individuals it portrays - "Doc" is an engaging character who commands your attention - and the realities of living out such an 'idyllic' lifestyle. The freedom, travelling, surfing and innocence all have their price to pay and the children missed out on a formally recognised education which restricted their options in adult life and made integrating back into the "real" world pretty tough. But although "Doc" imposed his way of life on his family you can't really fault him for trying to give them the best that he thought was right - eating well, preserving the planet and loving one another.

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