Rory Kennedy and Surf God Laird Hamilton at Gurney’s Montauk for SummerDocs

Growing up Kennedy meant seeing people who push to greatness on a regular basis, documentarian Rory Kennedy said to a crowd of movie and surfing enthusiasts about her inspiration for documentary filmmaking. The occasion was a screening of her new film, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, part of the Hamptons International Film Festival SummerDocs, at Gurney’s Montauk. This, her third to be a SummerDocs feature after Ethel, about her mother, and Last Days in Viet Nam, a film about an athlete supreme in the sport of surfing seemed best suited for a screening in Montauk, and so the rooftop party site, looking onto the ocean became the perfect setting for a celebration of Hamilton’s expertise both on his surfboard, and off, crafting them, inventing new ways to fly in water.

Water is a major player, and Laird Hamilton humbly calls himself a “water” man with an up close and personal relationship with fear. The film’s photography is, by the way, sensational, as it shows state of the art surfers taking mythic scale 20 story tall waves, and sailing through a wave’s cocoon. Hamilton’s allure and innovations in board-crafting have added to the surfing boom. The film does not shy away from a critique of the ills of a sport gone commercial.

The party brought out surfers in the Hamptons community. Photographer Bruce Weber, who made some surfing movies of this own, is mentioned in the film as having helped launch Laird’s modeling career. Rory Kennedy flew in from Nantucket that day with her own entourage including her nephew Bobby Kennedy III who is preparing to shoot a fiction film, Freak Power, based onHunter S. Thompson and his 1970 third-party run for sheriff of Pitkin County. He will shoot the film in neighboring Silverton, Colorado, having bought a hotel there with some of his producers, a sound strategy that surely tops leasing it. Never far from politics, he thought the film is timely, revealing Thompson’s very real efforts for a third party changing things up in America.

As host, Alec Baldwin was is rare form, already scheduling Rory Kennedy’s new film about NASA for a SummerDoc in two years. And Baldwin being Baldwin, noting Hamilton’s smooth, bronze look, he just had to ask, on behalf of the Hamptons audience, what sort of skin products does Hamilton use?

None, he replied, straight man to this tongue in cheek Hamptons query. “Hydration is key, oh and I do like coconut oil.”

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