Feature documentary Bella Vita tells the story of Chris del Moro, american surfer, artist and environmentalist who embarks on a journey of self-discovery around Tuscany, Italy. Beautifully shot and crafted bearing the fine aesthetic hallmarks of director Jason Baffa’s previous works (Single Fin: Yellow, One California Day), the central premise revolves around Del Moro discovering a fresher, purer appreciation of wave riding among the burgeoning Italian surfing community, while at the same revisiting his own childhood Tuscan family summers, exploring themes of friendships forged in and out of the ocean, and Italy’s wholesome social interactions and values as a panacea to the pace of modern life.
In terms of visual beauty, the two principal visual flavours of surfing water sequences and the Tuscan countryside compliment each other like fine wine and mature cheese, while Baffa’s characteristic cinematic reverence for man made objects of beauty; cars, motorbikes, hand crafted violins, surfboards, Venetian gondolas, marble sculpture are all portrayed in deliciously delivered vignettes. Australian pro surfer/environmentalist Dave Rastovich joins Del Moro in Italy and embellishes the surfing quality with trademark musical flourishes of beautiful post high performance surfing, as do California’s Coffin brothers Conner and Parker, who in addition to adding a more youthful, edgy, exuberant surfing style, add a dash of selfdeprecating humour to the cast.
Culture and lifestyle
Bella Vita is neither a surf movie nor a documentary about Italian culture, and substantial bodies of work already exist on both these topics. What it does do so successfully is simultaneously run multiple personal narratives whilst delectably showcasing the broader appeal of themes of surfing, travel, friendship, craftsmanship, discovery and sustainable living, tying those in with the almost universal appeal of Italian artistry, culture and lifestyle. If you, like most, have never been on a surf trip to Italy, expect yourself to leaving the cinema making plans for one.