The Endless Summer, Bruce Brown’s surf documentary on finding the perfect wave, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Sun-Ray Cinema in Five Points, is celebrating the movie’s half-century birthday with a free screening on July 6.
The film follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they escape the California winter to travel the globe’s warmer climates in search of waves. The team visits beaches in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii — riding with local surfers or, in some cases, introducing the area’s population to the emerging sport.
The film’s highlight comes during a stop at South Africa’s Cape St. Francis. Narration during the scene describes Hynson’s realization he had “found that perfect wave” at the Cape. Since its release, the documentary has launched the area to fame as a surfing town and destination.
Cape St. Francis, although receiving the most attention, wasn’t the only travel location to receive attention from Endless Summer. The documentary helped spark the now common practice of traveling abroad to find hidden beaches and waves. The film also exposed the sport to a wider audience, beyond beach communities.
Although considered a classic surf film, Endless Summer actually featured less surfing than other similar films and instead equally focused on beachside interaction with locals from the destinations. According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, this helped boost the movie’s appeal to non-surfers while still remaining relevant and interesting to those who did surf.
Released in 1966, the film was made with a $50,000 budget and grossed $30 million globally. The documentary was praised by critics and even received a sponsorship from the U.S. State Department to enter the Moscow Film Festival at the height of the Cold War.
The Sun-Ray screening is free at begins at 7 p.m. The theatre is located at 1028 Park St. in Five Points.