Surf Film Tradition Catches Wave at Parrish

A scene from "Take Every Wave," which will screen this week at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.

Laird Hamilton is a legend among big wave surfers. He dominated the sport, despite his eschewing professional competition — and garnering no support from the surf industry.

That drama is the heart of Rory Kennedy’s film “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” which will screen on Friday, November 23, at 6 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill.

Mixing never-before-seen archival footage with contemporary verité scenes shot in Southern California, Bermuda and Kauai, the film weaves the past and present into an intimate and compelling portrait of the iconic athlete at the top of his game.

“I’m excited to continue our post-Thanksgiving surf movie tradition with this amazingly shot and in-depth portrait of someone who isn’t afraid to push sports and life to the limits,” Corinne Erni, senior curator for ArtsReach and Special Projects, said in a statement.

Hamilton’s biographical story is told against the backdrop of a winter surf season on Kauai, where El Niño storm systems threaten to bring the biggest surf in decades. Threaded throughout the footage is a revealing, deeply personal interview with Hamilton, as well as conversations with the family members, friends, collaborators and detractors who know him best.

The film covers Hamilton from his early life — his birth in the early 1960s to a mother who was also a surfer — to his work as a model to his daredevil adventures, including using a jet ski to get far enough out to hook onto waves up to 100 feet high.

“‘Take Every Wave’ director Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy, is known for making films about serious topics including ‘Pandemic: Facing AIDS,’ ‘Ghost of Abu Ghraib’ and ‘Last Days in Vietnam,’” according to a press release. “In this film about Hamilton, Kennedy presents a character study that presents the surfer’s drive and singular vision as something akin to a political crusade.”

Admission is $15 and $5 for members, children and students. For more information, call (631) 283-2118 or visit