Wed 17 August 2022

Love at first wave: La Union surf scene rides to the big screen in “Flotsam The Movie”

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With the surge of surfing events, camps and spots, riding the waves has become more popular in the country. But unlike the U.S. where there are movies about surfing (such as “Surf’s Up,” “Point Break,” and “Blue Crush,”), the Philippines has yet to have a film about it.

Aficionados now have a reason to rejoice because there are not just one but two Filipino surfing films that hit the cinemas. There’s “Apocalypse Child,” shown at the QCinema Film Festival from October 22-31. It’s about a boy from Baler, Quezon, called Ford who was named after Francis Ford Coppola—the director of the war epic “Apocalypse Now.”

Then there is “Flotsam The Movie,” which screens in cinemas beginning November 4. The title comes from part of a name of a hostel in La Union, another well-known local surfing spot. In “Flotsam,” Filmmaker Jay Abello (“Ligaw Liham,” “Namets,” “Red,” “Pureza”) weaves eight love stories situated in the surfing town.


Solenn Heussaff and Carla Humphries

Stars Solenn Heussaff and Roco Nacino headline an ensemble cast composed of Carla Humphries, Marc Abaya, Julia Quisumbing, Mara Lopez, Jun King Austria, Adrian Cabido, Barbara Miguel, and Franco Daza plus real surfers and residents of La Union.

The project began a few years back when Direk Jay visited La Union and came across the Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel. “I was helping out some friends shoot a documentary there.” (The words “flotsam” and “jetsam,” by the way, are nautical terms. “Flotsam” refers to the wreckage of a ship found floating on the water, while “jetsam” are the unwanted material thrown from a ship.)
When Direk Jay returned to Manila, he wrote the scripts of three short films based on what he saw during his visit. Coming up with the stories was so spontaneous for the filmmaker. He revealed, “I wrote them in 20 minutes.”

Meeting and collaborating with Joncy Sumulong, one of the owners of the Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel in La Union, led to a multi-character full-length feature that is both a tribute to surfing and an ode to a fascinating community. Joncy is given writing credit and he is also one of the movie’s producers.

At the press launch, Direk Jay’s passion and fondness for his newest ‘baby’ was very evident. He said, “We just filmed it like it’s a magical world. The script was easy to write because the material is right in front of our eyes. And yet, it was hard to film because we had to get it right so we could transport the audience to Flotsam.”

Aside from the beautiful scenery and the inspired stories, what makes “Flotsam The Movie” unique is its music. The soundtrack includes songs by Eraserheads guitarist Marcus Adoro. Marcus himself is a surfer who has been frequenting La Union for the past 15 years.

Flotsam and La Union had a certain allure that Solenn recognized right away. After reading the script, she had her busy schedule blocked off for a week so she could shoot her scenes.

Filming in La Union turned out to be a welcome break. “Real life and even TV are already filled with drama. I liked that ‘Flotsam’ is light,” said Solenn.

Direk Jay concluded that he hopes that like him, like Solenn, and surfing diehards, the audience will see Flotsam as “a very special place.”

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