"Step Into Liquid," a surf documentary featuring several surf pros and legends including Laird Hamilton, above, premieres at Wallace Art House at Restaurant Row Tuesday.

The roots of passion

'Step Into Liquid," the largest audience draw in the history of the Maui Film Festival, will get the red carpet VIP treatment when it premieres next week at the Wallace Art House at Restaurant Row.

The 88-minute surf documentary by Dana Brown, son of "The Endless Summer" producer Bruce Brown, will screen at 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by openings Aug. 8 here, New York and Los Angeles and nationwide release Aug. 15.

Attending the Hawaii screening will be director Dana Brown and several surfers who appear in the film, as well as Hawaii surf legends such as Dave Kalama, Rabbit Kekai, Buffalo and Brian Keaulana, Randy Rarick, Clyde Aikau, George Downing, and Joey Cabell. Also attending will be California's Jesse Billauer, who was crippled in a surfing accident in 1996.

A silent auction of surf memorabilia for the Life Rolls On Foundation (established by Billauer) will also be held. The foundation promotes efforts to develop effective treatments and a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.

A private VIP party will be held at Duke's at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel after Tuesday's special screening.

In "Step Into Liquid," director Brown finds that "the stoke" -- the passion that keeps surfers paddling back for more -- can be found in unlikely places such as Texas, Wisconsin, Ireland and Vietnam.

The real search, Brown says, isn't for the biggest tube or most radical ride, but understanding what it is about surfing that hooks people's souls and becomes integral to their lives, far exceeding a simple pastime. For example:

» There's the guy who hasn't missed a day in the water for 27 years;

» Two of the world's best tow-in surfer crews meet, share techniques and travel the globe riding the world's biggest waves;

» In Texas -- home of the 3-mile wave ride -- surfers share the water with supertankers in the Gulf of Mexico;

» A veteran returns to Vietnam with his son 30 years later to discover that surfing is a language spoken everywhere.

The documentary also pays special attention to the rise of women in the sport.

Finding his subjects was a story in itself, Brown said.

"Some of the people I knew, sometimes I was interested in the place," he said. "I wanted to do something on Ireland and then we found out about the Malloys."

The Malloy brothers return to their homeland to surf and unite Protestant and Catholic school kids on the chilly beaches of Ireland, teaching them to cast aside their differences through the common bond of surfing.

A highlight of the film is the group of surfers who headed 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Calif., to chase down some 60-foot-plus waves at Cortez Bank.

Other spots featured are Tahiti's Teahupoo, Oahu's North Shore, Rapa Nui, Western Australia, Lake Michigan, Mavericks in California and Costa Rica.

The documentary also features surfers Taj Burrow, Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and the Strapped Crew, Peter Mel, Skindog Collins, Flea, Shawn Barron, Layne Beachley, Rochelle Ballard, Keala Kennelly, Wingnut, Robert August, Mark Martinson, Mickey Munoz, Dale Webster, Larry and Lee Williams, Jim and Alex Knost, Malik Joyeux and Manoa Drollet.

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