Rocky Romano, an credited award winning filmmaker, impacted the history of surfing with his documentary, “Learning to Breathe.” The daring film was showcased at the 2013 SMASH Surf Film Festival in NYC, winning the Best Storyline by a jury selection. This has been and continues to be a powerful film for the surfing community.
“Learning to Breathe” goes behind the scenes to share with the world the career of professional surfer, Anthony Ruffo.phenomenal surfing talents and alluring persona gained the support and admiration of the surfers in the Santa Cruz community. When Ruffo’s career began to fall apart on a rampant downward spiral due to addiction and criminality, he pulled a part of the surf culture down with him. Dealing with the weight of a negative reputation and a 5- year stint in state prison, Ruffo was forced to look at his life decisions in the eye and accept the wave of repercussions on his community. Ruffo makes a remarkably solid attempt to fix the brokenness he caused without certainty of the court’s forgiveness.
Director Rocky Romano gushes about the way his film is perceived and accepted, “I am incredibly happy and honored to have won the jury selection for BEST STORYLINE. To win at this festival, with the quality of films that the selection committee chose, is an honor. I would like to thank all the people that were part of making this film (I could not have done it with out you), the athletes that had the courage to break the code of silence, Anthony Ruffo for trusting me to tell this story and having the guts to tell the truth, all of the 2013 SMASH sponsors, and the entire SMASH team (especially the jurors! Ha Ha!).”
This film, “Learning to Breathe“ is on point documenting Ruffo’s surfing history, methamphetamine addiction, criminality and path to recovery. Some of the world’s most noted surfers come out of the silence to discuss his path to fame and fall to darkness. This film reveals the powerful truth of things previously kept quiet. Athletes including Peter Mel, Darryl Virostko and Christian Fletcher, come forth, out of the silence of the surfing world. They share personal addiction issues and talk about the battle of drug use in the professional surfing industry.
Lead editor, Miranda Winters reveals: “In making this film, there have been countless speed bumps and obstacles. At times, working on Learning to Breathe felt like dodging bullets, but we persevered because the story was worth telling. Winning Best Storyline at SMASH means the world to us. Although I always knew that Ruffo’s story would hold unique meaning for me as a filmmaker, winning definitely gives us a new sense of pride and validation.”
Producer Robert Martin emphasizes the importance of the support his team experienced and it’s key role in the success of telling the truth about drugs in the industry and additionally, portraying this story accurately: “Thanks to the organizers of the Smash Film Festival for having the courage to show an uncompromising film like Learning to Breathe when most of the surf industry and many surf film festivals shied away from the film because of it’s unflinching look the dark side of the drug problem in surfing and action sports.” He went on to say that ,”Hopefully, Learning to Breathe will continue to spark a much needed conversation about helping people in the surf community who have drug problems, and hopefully Ruffo’s willingness to be honest and open about the trials and tribulations he has experienced will serve as a lesson to the next generation of professional surfers that even if you run into problems, you can pull yourself back from the brink and change your life for the better.”