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Otelo Burning

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Film Review by Alex Workman

Surfing films don’t always hit the mark. Particularly when Hollywood has a go and litters the narrative with cringe worthy cliches and over acting. However a surfing themed film generally lures us to the cinema as we identify with our tribe. Otelo Burning is a South African film set in the 1980′s during the volatile and bloody apartheid period.

The story begins with Otelo, his younger brother Ntwe and his best friend New Year. The trio are invited to the beach by Mandla Modise who shows the boys what surfing is and opens their minds to another world away from the conflict and violence. For the boys the sea had always been a place to fear, however the sense of ‘flying on water’ consumes them and comes to represent freedom from their environment.

Under the watchful eye of an older white man the boys document their progression and are sold the idea of making it in the surfing world if they out surf their peers in the regionals. Otelo is an extremely gifted surfer and soon outshines his friend Mandla. As Mandla’s resentment builds he sets in motion a chain of events that will destroy the group. On the day Nelson Mandela steps out of prison Otelo makes a decision that will change his life forever. Otelo Buring is a fantastic film. I urge you to see it whether you’re a surfer or not. The underlying message and story is powerful enough to move you.

Words by Alex Workman

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Alex Workman in Byron Bay

“It’s all about the ‘stoke’...why else would you surf?”. Alex is a Media student majoring in Journalism. A keen surfer, writer and photographer Alex loves to combine his experiences into stories he hopes you will enjoy. If you’d like to see more of Alex’s work take a look here.

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