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Splinters

Directed by Adam Pesce. US. 2011. NR. 94 minutes. Matson Films. 35mm.
Sun., June 10, 2012
Sunday
June 10, 2012
4:30 pm

“A real-life examination of competitive surfing in Papua New Guinea, the film derives tension from the proverbial big tournament but also from how the event helps foster a worthy morality.

Andy Abel of the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea encourages villagers in Vanimo to participate in the country’s first National Surfing Titles, whose winners will go to Australia to train with world-class wave riders. Signing up are the proud, aggressive Angelus Lipahi and the earnest, hardworking Ezekiel Afara, both inspired by glossy magazine images of surfing superstars. The married Angelus is accused of fathering and financially neglecting children by a woman who is not his wife; on the eve of the competition, she threatens police action.

The sisters Susan and Lesley Umpa also enter the competition, with more at stake. Both are sick of having their surfboards (splinters, in indigenous slang) stolen by local men. The fiercely driven Lesley in particular says she resents the housebound drudgery expected of women and the endemic domestic abuse invariably accompanying it. Not all of these players win in this capable account of their struggles, but all contribute to a valuable lesson in fair play.” (Andy Webster, The New York Times)