This article is from the November 1997 The Mexico File newsletter.
Back to Articles List

Film Review
Siestas and Olas, A Surf Travelogue


by Dan Wozniak (Dan-O Surfilms)
Reviewed by Michael O’Connell

Michael O’Connell is the president of Arabian Chevron and is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A lot of "working" surfers would love to do what Dan and the boys did when they made this semi-traditional surfing flick. Blow off work for god knows how long. Pack up the Suburban for a major surf check through Baja and the mainland. Ride great Mexican waves everyday only in a swimsuit with friends and/or surfing notables. Eat like the natives. Slam a few beers. And finally, catch a lot of serious nap time.

Especially me. I saw Dan’s movie just before moving the family from Del Mar, California, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. With such a poor surf forecast for my near-term future and my wife going to the show with me, I needed both things that Dan delivered on: set after set of juicy waves and enough travelogue content to keep Lorri from nodding off. All this and a zippy sound track that integrates popular Mexican cantatas with a band that sounds remarkably like Honk made a for a movie that indeed the whole family can enjoy (we know because the four pint sized gremlins sitting next to us were hooting too.)

On the surf side Dan begins by teasing us with abundant footage of fun little waves, expertly ridden by Tom Wegener, Josh Farberow and Marc Kavanagh, on numerous known and obscure Baja and Mainland beaches. Then he brings on superb Joel Tudor and the big stuff at Puerto Escondido. Actually the second half of the movie could have been titled "Longboards Dancing on Some Size." There is even a little intrigue—the search for the Malibu of Mexico.

The travelogue element of "Siestas and Olas" is liberally interspersed between the surfing footage, providing semi-useful information about towns and places that are for the most part "off the beaten track." If you own a muddy Suburban or something close, there are some classic moments to bond with.

There were only a few minor bummers worth mentioning. The Mexican music soundtrack that accompanies most of the first half of the film was tracking at about 95% speed (fixable no doubt with a little WD-40). The running commentary sometimes drags just as slowly, making you wish you had gotten that extra shot of tequila with your marg at dinner. And with all the buildup about the Malibu of Mexico, it would have been nice if Dan had been able to stay there long enough to get some daytime shots or mailed out earlier for a lens with lower f-stops.

But for the most part "Siestas and Olas" lives up to its press release promise of offering "entertainment for the entire family with enlightening travelogue, beautiful scenery and feel-good surfing." Sitting in Riyadh, without a wave or a drink for a month now, I give "Siestas and Olas" 3 hang-tens out of a possible 5. With an extra shot or two it’s sure to move up to a 4.