Award winning filmmaker, Rocky Romano, announces “Learning to Breathe” has won the jury selection for BEST DOCUMENTARY at the 2013 LONDON Surf Film Festival. This marks the third straight festival that the film has won, taking BEST STORYLINE at the 2013 SMASH FEST in NYC, as well as the HEART & SOUL Award at the 2013 Mill Valley Surf Film Festival.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to have won the jury selection for BEST DOCUMENTARY at the 2013 London Surf Film Festival. To win at this prestigious 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, 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 London Surf Film Festival sponsors, and the entire London Festival team.” – Rocky Romano, Director.
Critically acclaimed as one of the most important films in the history of surfing, ”Learning To Breathe” explores the troubled evolution of professional surfing legend Anthony Ruffo. Ruffo’s legendary surfing ability and charismatic personality made him a role model in the Santa Cruz surfing community, and when he fell into spiraling addiction and criminality, he took a portion of the surfing world with him. Facing a failing reputation and 5-years in state prison, Ruffo must finally understand the impact he has made on his community. He strives to repair his broken life, but there are no guarantees that the court will sympathize with Ruffo’s efforts.
“Winning BEST DOCUMENTARY at the 2013 London Surf Film Festival means the world to us. Rocky’s perseverance in following Ruffo and telling this story has lead us down an incredible path. It wasn’t always an easy journey, but in the end, it has turned out to be an incredibly positive one. The praise that the film has received and the lives it has touched have definitely given us a sense of pride and validation.” – Miranda Winters, Lead Editor
Anthony’s surfing past, methamphetamine addiction, criminality, and eventual recovery are displayed candidly in ‘Learning to Breathe.’ Those surrounding Anthony, including some of the world’s best surfers, discuss Anthony’s rise to fame and spiral into darkness. For the first time, athletes including Anthony Ruffo, Pete Mel, Darryl Virostko and Christian Fletcher, break the code of silence in the surfing industry and open up about their own addiction issues, discussing the problem of drug use in the professional surfing community.
“Thanks to the organizers of the London Surf 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 at the dark side of the drug problem in surfing and action sports,” stated Producer Robert Martin. “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.”
“Learning to Breathe” is the most important surf film of 2013 PERIOD.” – Pierce Michael Kavanagh, President of The San Diego Surf Film Festival
“The documentary portrays a sad and complex reality that goes beyond the surf community. You come out of this dark sea and feel still wet to the bones.” – Edinho Leite, ESPN Brazil
“Learning to Breathe is a must see film for both surf enthusiasts and a much wider audience.” – Tyler Breuer, Director of SMASH FEST NYC
“Finally the issue of drugs, and in particular hard drugs like meth, is being talked about and people are taking it more seriously.” -Jake Howard, ESPN USA
“Excellent. I want as many people as possible to see it. It’s not just a Santa Cruz story. It’s a story about surfing (and humans in general) that can happen anywhere. One of the best surf related documentaries I’ve ever seen.” – Dave Mailman, Former President Association of Surfing Professionals Europe
“Learning to Breathe is a courageous film. Anthony Ruffo bares his soul to the camera in a way you rarely, if ever, see in a surf movie. His story is brutally honest and revealing.” – Ari Luri, President of The Mill Valley Surf Film Festival
The London Surf Film Festival is an international celebration of the very cream of surf culture, and brings together film, art, photography and lifestyle from wave riding’s most exciting creatives.
The independent festival is a showcase of international surfing’s best feature films, documentaries and Indie films plus the pick of short film productions from Britain and Ireland’s homegrown talents. Accompanied by Q&A, talks and workshops with legends of the surf as well as a gallery show, live music sessions, makers & doers and more, the London Surf Film Festival is the ‘must attend’ event.
American born Director Rocky Romano, is an action sports athlete turned multiple award winning Writer/Producer/Director with over twenty short films, and four feature films to his credit. He has produced feature films, television shows, live webcasts, brand documentaries, web-series and viral campaigns. His work has been featured in Hollywood films, TV, and iTV forums, receiving multiple awards and appearing in over twenty international film festivals. He is a recognized leader within the iTV forum, founding the trans-media company iTVbranding, in 2011. His cinematography can be seen in the Walden Media/20th Century FOX feature film Chasing Mavericks, and he recently produced, and was the 2nd unit director, of the new documentary Discovering Mavericks. Rocky has also recently launched the Big Wave Surfing apparel line Maverick Momentsâ based on the acclaimed web series of the same name.
In 2010 Rocky’s film Ride A Wave was an official selection of the 2010 X-Dance Film Festival, the Audience Award Winner for best short documentary at the 2010 Santa Cruz Film Festival; received the Best Emerging Artist award at the 2010 My Hero Film Festival in the category of Humanitarian Filmmaking; selected as the Humanitarian Film of the Year at the 2010 California Film Awards; and is an official selection of the 2011 Wild & Scenic Film Festival & Festival Tour. Rocky served as Producer and 2nd Unit Director on the documentary film Discovering Mavericks which was an official selection to the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival, 2013 San Francisco Ocean Festival, 2013 SMASH Surf Film Festival, and won the audience award at the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival. His new feature-length film Learning to Breathe was a Closing Night “Rough Cut” Special Selection at the 2012 Santa Cruz Film Festival, selected as Best Storyline at the 2013 SMASH Surf Film Festival in NYC, selected for the Heart & Souls award at the 2013 Mill Valley Surf Film Festival, selected as Best Documentary at the 2013 London Surf Film Festival, and is an official selection at the 2013 Surf Film Festival Germany & 2103 Wavescape Film Festival in Cape Town, South Africa.