The best surf documentaries of the 20th century

Taylor Steele, Andrew Kidman and Bruce Brown. Between these 3, they made most of the 16 surfing documentaries from the 20th century that have been preserved.


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Although the  surfing documentaries of the 21st century (55) are more numerous than the 21st century fictional surf movies (29), it wasn't like that in the 20th century, perhaps because the first fictional surfing film of the 20st century is from 1937 and the first surfing documentary didn't come out until two decades later, in 1958.

However, these are the best surfing documentary directors, which will be enshrined in the new century: Taylor Steele, Andrew Kidman and Bruce Brown. Between these 3, they made most of the 16 surfing documentaries from the 20th century that have been preserved. Some more were made, shot in 8 and 16 mm, but they were not edited for public display or have been lost.

Below are the 16 best-surfing documentaries from the 20th century, arranged in chronological order from the most modern to the oldest, from top to bottom.

  1. Thicker Than Water by Jack Johnson, Chris Malloy and Emmett Malloy - USA. UU. 2000 - 45 min - With Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Brad Gerlach, Shane Dorian ... - The singer and composer with his film-making friends filmed images of the life and times of some of the best surfers in the world in Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Ireland. Of course, the original soundtrack is impressive.
  2. Loose Change by Taylor Steele - USA. UU. 1999 - 62 min - With Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Bruce Irons, Tim Curran ... - Winner of the Australian Surfing Life Reader Award remains true to Steele's style with surfing and punk-rock.
  3. The Show by Taylor Steele - USA.UU. 1997 - 102 min - With Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Tim Curran, Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, the Malloy ... - Best video of the Surfer Poll Awards with the usual style of Steele: surf and punk-rock.
  4. Litmus: A Surfing Odyssey by Andrew Kidman - USA. UU. 1996 - 56 min - With Derek Hynd, Wayne Lynch, Tom Curren, Joel Fitzgerald ... - Kidman's first surf movie showing some great images of surf legends accompanied by a great original soundtrack and animation by Mark Sutherland.
  5. GoodTimes by Taylor Steele - USA.UU. 1995 - 2 VHS 40 min - With Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Ross Williams, Taylor Knox, Chris Malloy, Benji Weatherly... - Steele's collaboration with the musicians that appear in his first surf movies started the 'GoodTimes Tour,' a concert tour in America in support of this surf video, on 2 albums, with the best surfers of the day.
  6. The Endless Summer 2by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1994 - 109 min. - With Patrick O'Connell, Robert 'Wingnut' Weaver, Robert August... - 30 years after 'The Endless Summer', following the waves with 2 young surfers, Brown himself returns to the places and people of that first installment and builds another great surfing documentary.
  7. Momentum 2 by Taylor Steele - USA. UU. 1993 - VHS 35 min - With Kelly Slater, Ross Williams, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox... - Sequel to the surf documentary to the rhythm of punk rock music shot the previous year. Steele's collaboration with the musicians featured in these early films kicked off the 'GoodTimes Tour', an American concert tour in support of 'GoodTimes', the surf video he directed in 1995.
  8. Momentum by Taylor Steele - USA. UU. 1992 - VHS 35 min - With Kelly Slater, Ross Williams, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox... - Surfing documentary shot to the rhythm of punk rock.
  9. Crystal Voyager by David Elfick - Australia 1973 - 78 min - With George Greenough, Richie West y Nat Young - A biography of surfer and documentary maker, George Greenough, accompanied by his surfing colleagues.
  10. Five Summer Stories by Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray - USA. UU. 1972 - 94 m - With David Nuuhiwa, Eddie Aikau, Gerry López and Sam Hawk. - A classic of surfing cinema recognized as the beginning of the second generation of surf movies, with animation by Juan Cordero and an original soundtrack by 'Honk', the rock band from Southern California.
  11. Morning of the Earth by Alby Falzon and David Elfick - Australia 1971 - 79 m - With Stephen Cooney, Terry Fitzgerald, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Nat Young... - A film that forever changed the worldview of surfing, chosen in 2007 as the second best surfing movie after 'The Endless Summer'. Portrays surfers who live in spiritual harmony with nature while traveling in search of the perfect wave through Australia, Bali and Hawaii.
  12. The Endless Summer by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1966 - 95 min - With Mike Hynson, Robert August and Miki Dora - Written, filmed and directed by Brown, following 2 young surfers looking for the perfect waves, is considered the best surf movie of all time.
  13. Surfing Hollow Days by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1961 - 84 min - With Bruce Brown, Phil Edwards, and Wayne Miyata- Fourth Brown surf movie shot in California, Mexico, Florida, Australia and New Zealand.
  14. Barefoot Adventure by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1960 - 74 min - With Bruce Brown, Sammy Lee Peter Cole Kemp Aaberg Del Cannon - In Brown's style: surfing, surfers, big waves, lush landscapes and great music.
  15. Surf Crazy by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1959 - 72 min - With Bruce Brown, Paul Gebauer, Donald Takayama... - Brown's second documentary begins with surfing and California grape harvest to the giant Hawaiian waves, including one of the largest waves ever ridden at Waimea Bay.
  16. Slippery When Wet by Bruce Brown - USA. UU. 1958 - 72 m - First feature-length surfing documentary with brilliant color, a perfect edition, and Brown's narrative. It was not the first surfing documentary, because Greg Noll, 'The Bull', had shot one in 1957, but it may be the one that officially opened up the genre. Brown, himself, had already shot a short film by 1955, that has been lost, today.