Filmmaker Jason Baffa explores emerging surf culture in Italy alongside surfer, artist and environmentalist Chris Del Moro. The film dives into the discovery of Italian history combined with traditional ideals as Del Moro embarks on a journey with friends like Dave Rastovich, Conner & Parker Coffin, Lauren & Lyndsey Hill, and Italian athletes Alessandro Ponzanelli and Leonardo Fioravanti. Del Moro and Baffa spent 3 months documenting their journey through the Italian countryside and their hunt for great waves. Beautifully shot in high definition and 35mm film, Bella Vita celebrated the world premiere at the 61st Annual San Sebastian Film Festival on September 22nd, 2013.
The Surf Channel: How would you describe Italian surf culture?
Jason Baffa: “Passionate, curious, experimental. For a country that has exported so many amazing things- from amazing food, wine, design, automotive- surfing seems to be one thing that they have embraced as an import (and they don’t import many things). I found that fascinating and I found it fascinating how this new surfing sub-culture is mixing into a world so set on old-world-tradition. I’m really proud of how Bella Vita examines that.
Why is Italian surf culture different compared to the United States?
JB: The italians are truly absorbing surf culture and infusing it with classic Italianism, truly creating a new hybrid that is unique and exciting. They have to work very hard to get waves, so I think they really appreciate every wave ridden. I can honestly say, anytime I rolled film on a local italian surfing, they had a huge smile on their face- from 2 feet to 6 feet. I like that stoke factor, I wish surfing had that more all over the world.
What was the most interesting discovery you made while journeying through Italy?
JB: Drinking large amounts of good red wine actually promotes creativity and productivity. Who knew?
How would you describe Chris Del Moro?
JB: Kind, generous, present. Chris has a great light that people are really drawn to. He is extremely honest and I think that honesty is refreshing. I had a tremendous time traveling with him for 3 months in Italy shooting the film and I have a true appreciation for how he conducts himself in life as a person. It has been wonderful collaborating on this project together over the last 2 years. We just need him to take a shower more often during road trips!
What was it like working with Dave Rastovich, Conner & Parker Coffin?
JB: Dave Rastovich is one of the great ambassadors in modern surfing. He has such a fascinating perspective on the world through his travels and experiences. I really enjoy spending time with people who are so well traveled and so well versed in different cultures around the world. I think as people (especially surfers) it is easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, our home break, our personal reality. But Dave has an amazing ability to step outside of himself and see the world the different perspective. I think as a filmmaker, this is an important trait. Life is about perspective and being open to all the different perspectives (or angles of view) on any given topic. I truly enjoyed spending time with Dave and his openness to discuss any and all things. He’s also damn fun to watch surf!
Conner and Parker Coffin are my nephews. My sister Krista and her husband Richard Coffin live in Santa Barbara and as a family, we spend as much time as possible together. Now that their careers are blooming, they are always on the road. So I don’t get to see them that often. So being together for a few weeks in Italy with my wife & new baby, with their mom, my parents (their grandparents), was probably the most memorable part of shooting Bella Vita for me. The film has a deep theme on the importance of family and I’m so happy I got to experience it with mine.
Furthermore, they are funny little buggers- and I love watching them surf. I’m ready to do another trip with them anytime they want.
What personal discoveries did you make in your Italian Heritage?
JB: Chris del Moro’s best friend Nico Pinzauti (who is in the film), hosted Chris and I for the first 2 weeks before our travels began. After a few days of eating, socializing and sharing afternoon espresso, Nico said to me, “Baffa- you are very Italian!” This was perhaps the best compliment I could get. My Father is 100% Italian and my family has really embraced the Italian sensibility of family, food, and community. I think spending those intense 108 days in Italy, really helped me connect with so many things I carry in life but maybe never realized why I felt so strongly about them. Things like spending time with friends, cooking dinner for my family and guests. I live for these things and I see now that much of it comes from my Italian roots. I could easily live in Italy a few months of the year for the rest of my life.
Where can our audience find the whole film?
JB: After a successful premiere of Bella Vita at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, we are looking at further A-list festivals in the next 6-months. We are speaking with various distributors about presenting the film in worldwide territories. I still love cinema and we shot 35mm film because of that. I’d love to exhibit the film as best we can for audiences, so I’m taking the next few months to make sure we do that right. You can join our Facebook page or email list at bellavitafilm.com for updates.