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Ocean Driven: The Chris Bertish Story 2015, 2017

Highly Recommended

Distributed by The Orchard, 23 E. 4th Street, 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10013
Produced by Nadia Tarlow for Aurelia Productions
Directed by Nadia Tarlow, Adrian Charles, Chris Bertish, Sean Dewil
DVD , color, 88 min.

Middle School - General Adult
Sports, Surfing

Date Entered: 08/16/2017

Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

This is the story of Chris Bertish, South African surfer and diver whose early life in CapeTown centered around surfing and sailing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans around South Africa. He then went on to worldwide adventure surfing and diving in the 1990s and 2000’s, culminating in his win of the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational Surfing Contest for 2009/10. In the film, Chris and fellow big wave surfers comment on Chris’s focus and drive for mastery of the most challenging and dangerous variety of the sport: big wave surfing.

An extraordinary amount of archival footage, including home movies, have been edited into a coherent tale of Chris’s obsession for big wave surfing. The demands of big wave surfing (waves 20-50 feet or 6-15 meters high) are described by expert big wave surfers who attest to Bertish’s skill, determination, bravery and resilience. The adventure of each big wave involves paddling out, identifying and catching a monster competitive wave, dropping vertically into the curl on a surfboard, riding the wave, and, with enormous skill, judgment and luck, avoiding being crushed by tons of moving water as the wave breaks just a few feet above the ocean floor.

Ocean Driven is highly recommended for general audiences, especially so in coastal locations with surfing populations. The excitement of witnessing Chris or another surfer catch one of these monster waves is palpable. The ability to conquer one of these behemoths requires levels of skill, bravado, and tenacity that few surfers will be able to muster. Try The Big Swell (2013) for a further look into the obsessive culture of big wave surfing, and Best Hours of the Day for a beautiful meditation on the sport of surfing, both reviewed in EMRO.


  • Winner, Audience Award – 2015 Allianz Portuguese Film Festival
  • Best Feature, Viewers’ Choice – 2015 Santa Cruz Film Festival
  • Honor Award – 2015 San Diego Surf Film Festival
  • Best Film for an Ocean Experience – 2016 Waimea Ocean Film Festival
  • Best Feature Film, Viewers’ Choice – 2016 Florida Surf Film Festival