‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ opined Marc Anthony while he was sailing down the Nile, so the history books don’t say. A film season in Exeter is highlighting people who work so hard at what they love, it makes that Marc Anthony quote sound like amateur hour. Welcome to the Pursuit of Happiness
The Pursuit of Happiness season began at the start of June (sorry for missing it, we’ve been pursuing some happiness), and runs to the end of July.
Quests for fulfilment
“This collection of handpicked films from around the world features some incredible individuals and the kookiest characters whose quest for fulfilment and happiness takes them to some serious extremes,” Exeter Phoenix film curator Claire Horrocks told D&CFilm.
“Retired couples navigate the high passes of the Pyrenees in pursuit of the Tour De France, a blind kayaker risks his life to experience the best paddle possible and two cold water surfers brave the Icy Icelandic climate in search of gender equality.
Spark you next adventure
“With eight weeks worth of fantastic films, Pursuits of Happiness might just spark your next adventure!”
Here are the films
The Yukon Assignment (Sunday, June 16) is a survival story combined with a father and son bonding experience.
In Big Wata a group of younger members of a West African fishing community in Sierra Leone take a leaf out of the Agatha Christie playbook and take up surfing (Wednesday, June 19. 40% of your ticket price will go directly to the Surf Club.)
Who needs the warm water when cold water surfing is so… invigorating. Pribori pushes cold water surfing in Siberia to its limits, blowing those usual surf stereo types out of the water, so to speak. Plus it’s visually stunning. La Torche is a neon surfing adventure that offers ‘a supernatural vision of the ocean’. Catch the pair of them on Wednesday, June 26.
Where do you draw the line between fan and fanatic. The Holy Tour follows those pursuers of the Tour de France. It’s in a two-wheeled double bill with short The Point of a Ride about the ‘competitive redistribution of NYC’s bike share programme’. (Wednesday, July 3)
Machotaildrop is ‘a highly visual and fantasitcal journey like no other’. And it’s a film for your ‘two wheels cool, four wheels cooler’ fans – yes skateboarders! It’s also something of a classic, with a colourful set of characters and a fantastic castle. Check out what Vice thought, but warning – it does include spoilers. So perhaps watch the film itself. It’s on with a short film by the director Corey Adams (who co-directed Machotraildrop), Atlas Electric (three young boys discover and harbour a fugitive robot) on Friday, July 5.
Documentary The Ponds sounds something you could dive into. Or, more accurately slowly immerse yourself into. The film covers the world of the bathing ponds of Hampstead Heath, and the very human stories of those who swim there. Peter Bradshaw has a touching review.
You can also catch two shorts along with The Pond. Chasing the Sublime ‘a mesmeric look at why adventurers adventure and swimmers swim’ following Kate Rew and Karie Furre of the Outdoor Swimming Society. And Waterlog flows Joe as he retraces the route of environmentalist Roger Deakin’s nature writing classic. Along with the screening is a conversation with wild swimming pioneer Kari Furre. (Tuesday, July 9)
If climbing and running and biking are your thing, then you really should check out The Best of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 2019. It’s making a doubled headed appearance at the Exeter Phoenix. And you can see ‘the film where Alex Honnold actually shows fear’. That’s Alex Honnold of Free Solo. Queen Maud Land is just one of six adventure flicks from this thrilling fest that’s on tour. (Wednesday, July 17; Sunday, July 21.)
Iceland is A Land Shaped by Women in director Anne-Flore Marxer’s film as she and Aline Bock travel the land inspired by tales of gender equality. It’s an iconic landscape filled with iconic women, as they bring a feminine narrative to the outdoor practice. Also on show is Nasicaa ‘a journey in search of adventures, unexplored shores and empty Mediterranean waves’ with an almost zero carbon footprint. (Wednesday, July 14)
A film about a first solo kayak run down the Grand Canyon wouldn’t be out of place in the Pursuit of Happiness. Add to that a battle to escape a prison of darkness. Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer is blind and The Weight of Water is the story of his white water trip. To accompany Weight of Water is the short Inside the Indus. Three men navigate the riffles and rapids of the Indus trying to dodge disaster. (Tuesday, July 3.)
As you look towards your own nirvana, you should consider the Pursuit of Happiness at the Exeter Phoenix. It ticks all our boxes of chilling out a the flicks while the thrills are on screen!