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SMASH Presents ... Learning to Breathe, plus a full program outline

17:44 15th July 2013 by Alex Dick-Read
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Here’s two bits of news about the upcoming New York surf culture happening. First, SMASH introduce ‘Learning to Breathe’, a film by Rocky Romano about Santa Cruz pro surfer/drug addict Anthony Ruffo; also, click here and you’ll be taken to the full program of SMASH events taking place around New York in the next few weeks.
Surf, Music, Art, Shaping, History – nice … :

Rocky Romano’s Critically Acclaimed Documentary “Learning to Breathe” Selected To The 2013 SMASH FEST in NYC

Award winning filmmaker, Rocky Romano, announces the screening of his critically acclaimed documentary “Learning to Breathe” at the prestigious 2013 SMASH FEST in NYC. This feature-length documentary ventures into a new realm for this talented and driven artist. Critically acclaimed as one of the most important films in the history of surfing, “Learning to Breathe” explores the troubled evolution of professional surfing legend Anthony Ruffo. Ruffo’s legendary surfing ability and charismatic personality made him a role model in the Santa Cruz surfing community, and when he fell into a spiraling addiction and criminality, he took a portion of the surfing world with him. Facing a failing reputation and 5-years in state prison, Ruffo must finally understand the impact he has made on his community. He strives to repair his broken life, but there are no guarantees that the court will sympathize with Ruffo’s efforts.

“This film has been a long and difficult journey, but the story was too important not to tell.” – stated Romano

Anthony’s surfing past, methamphetamine addiction, criminality, and eventual recovery are displayed candidly in Learning to Breathe. Those surrounding Anthony, including some of the world’s best surfers, discuss Anthony’s rise to fame and spiral into darkness. For the first time, athletes including Anthony Ruffo, Pete Mel, Darryl Virostko and Christian Fletcher, break the code of silence in the surfing industry and open up about their own addiction issues, discussing the problem of drug use in the professional surfing community.

“‘Learning To Breathe’ is a monument to Rocky’s perseverance as a filmmaker and his commitment to the Santa Cruz, surfing and action sports communities. When sponsors, the tour and the community refused to even talk about drugs as a problem, Rocky committed to tell the unvarnished truth about the drug problem in surfing and how it negatively impacts the lives of some athletes and the community at large,”according to the film Producer Robert Martin. “Rocky fought a complete lack of interest from traditional surf industry sponsors, financed the project nearly entirely on his own, and at one point had to hide rom law enforcement who was reportedly looking to seize the footage as evidence in the Ruffo case. It has already started a conversation about the dangers of hard drig use, and it will serve as a reminder to the surfing and action sports community that this is a problem, and athletes can and should seek help if they are caught up and in over their heads.”
“Learning to Breathe” will play at SMASH FEST 1 on Friday, July 26th at 7:00 PM at Villain, 50 North 3rd St, Brooklyn, New York.

Tickets are now on sale at: http://smashsurf.com/smashfest1/smash-fest-1-tickets/learning-to-breathe/

SMASH FEST 1 is a month-long series of surf film and art events that will span the New York area from Brooklyn, to Rockaway Beach, to Long Beach and Montauk. SMASH FEST 1 is the first profit sharing surf film festival for independent filmmakers. SMASH FEST 1 kicks off July 13th at The Long Beach Public Library and will run in Brooklyn at Villain on July 25th and 26th. SMASH FEST 1 will then tour through the Rockaway Beach Surf Club on July 27th and will finish up at Sole East in Montauk on July 28th.

SMASH (Surf/Movies/Art/Shaping/History) is a production company founded by Tyler Breuer, a native New Yorker who has been actively involved in the New York surf community for more than two decades. The mission of SMASH is to present, in a public forum, a body of emerging and historical work from the local and global surf community throughout the year. SMASH represents the natural evolution of its founders’ individual past projects, which include art exhibits, live musical performances, websites, blogs, movie premieres and film screenings, including the New York Surf Film Festival. SMASH is an ever expanding effort to preserve the roots of surfing and surf culture and to educate both newcomers and established members of the surf community about the rich history of surfing, while maintaining a strong connection to contemporary surf culture.

Director Rocky Romano is an action sports athlete turned multiple award winning Writer/Producer/Director with over twenty short films, and three feature films to his credit. He has produced live webcasts, viral campaigns, iTV videos & shows, and feature films. His work has been featured on top action sport websites, premiered and won at International Film Festivals, and has received critical acclaim. He is a recognized leader within the iTV forum, founding the trans-media company iTVbranding, in 2011. His cinematography can be seen in the Walden Media/20th Century FOX feature film Chasing Mavericks, and he recently produced, and was the 2nd unit director, of the new documentary Discovering Mavericks.

In 2010 Rocky’s film Ride A Wave was an official selection of the 2010 X-Dance Film Festival, the Audience Award Winner for best short documentary at the 2010 Santa Cruz Film Festival; received the Best Emerging Artist award at the 2010 My Hero Film Festival in the category of Humanitarian Filmmaking; selected as the Humanitarian Film of the Year at the 2010 California Film Awards; and is an official selection of the 2011 Wild & Scenic Film Festival & Festival Tour. Rocky served as Producer and 2nd Unit Director on the documentary film Discovering Mavericks which was an official selection to the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival, 2013 San Francisco Ocean Festival, 2013 SMASH Surf Film Festival, and won the audience award at the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival. His new feature-length film Learning to Breathe was a Closing Night “Rough Cut” Special Selection at the 2012 Santa Cruz Film Festival, and selected to the 2013 SMASH FESTin NYC.

Rocky and his V.P. of Operations Miranda Winters are continually re-defining “independent” filmmaking with their ability to achieve industry level results. Together, they created the critically acclaimed big wave surfing web series Maverick Moments, which is hosted on a premium YouTube channel. Maverick Moments episodes have been selected for the 2012 Surf Film Festibal Spanish Surf Film Festival, the 2013 Shore Shots Irish Surf Film Festival, the 2013 San Diego Surf Film Festival, 2013 Never Stop Spanish Surf Film Festival, and the 2014 Waimea Ocean Film Festival.

In 2006 Rocky founded The Go Big Project Inc., an action sports production company based out of Lake Tahoe & Santa Cruz California. He is also the creator and owner of thegobigproject.com, a cutting edge action sports lifestyle website that launched in 2010. He and his companies have been featured on HBO, ABC, NBC, ESPN, The London Guardian, RSN, The NY Times, Transworld Surf, USA Today, Surfline, San Francisco Chronicle, Santa Cruz Sentinel, San Jose Mercury, Reno Gazette, and many more.

For more information on the film and to watch the trailer, go to www.learningtobreathefilm.com.­

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