Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films: Bella Vita dives into Italy's surf culture

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      In English and Italian, with English subtitles.

      You don't need to be a surfer to appreciate this documentary about Italian surfing. Featuring sumptuous cinematography, a well-chosen soundtrack, and a relaxed vibe, the film is not so much a sport film as it is about reconnecting with the important things in life—and where better to do that in Italy?

      Director Jason Baffa follows professional surfer Chris Del Moro on a journey back to his childhood and ancestral homeland to spend time with friends and family. Although raised in the U.S., Del Moro regularly visited Italy throughout his life. Yet it's on this trip that cultural differences make a significant impact upon the 30-year-old.

      The still-developing Italian surfing scene, as the film reveals through interviews with Italian professional surfers such as Alessandro Ponzanelli and Leonardo Fioravanti, differs from those in North America or Australia. Under the sway of old-world influences, the modern form is taking on a distinctly Italian flavour as it grows. Unique Mediterranean weather patterns, which cause abrupt fluctuations from choppy to flat ocean conditions, mean that surfers have to make the most of whatever is available rather than questing for the huge waves.  

      The laidback, meandering pace and flow of the film aptly conveys the lifestyle it depicts. With picturesque views of landscape and buildings, it's both a visual and mental escape that will remind viewers of taking the time to appreciate the beauty that life has to offer instead of just chasing after the big thrills.

      Bella Vita plays (along with the short Haida Gwaii documentary "Fortune Wild") at the Vancouver Festival of Ocean Films on June 4.