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Mengejar Ombak wins 2 Awards at X-Dance

Trailer for Mengejar Ombak, the documentary film about Indonesian surfing star Dede Suryana that recently had its international premiere at X-Dance Film Festival in Utah and won two awards, for Original Music Score and Emerging Filmmaker.

In 2007, director Dave Arnold shared his aspirations for the film (and made a polite request for funding) in Kabar.
His article is reprinted below.


I’ve got a certain aversion to self-promotion (it’s all so 90’s) and I didn’t expect this was going to be a large part of what the filmmaking process is about.

As a documentary filmmaker friend commented recently on this very subject, “you might feel like you are begging for money the whole time but no one is paying you full-time to do what you do, so you have to get used to asking people for support, even if it feels a little odd.”

I’m a year into making a feature-length documentary that follows the personal story of Dede Suryana – a young and talented pro surfer who happens to come from a kampung in the Pelabuhan Ratu region. Today Dede is viewed by many of the world’s surf media as one of the best young surfers in both Asia and the world. To add to this repertoire of tricks he’s also beaten Kelly Slater (7 times World Champion) to win a competition in 2003, which was held in Hawaii.

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Dede Suryana in action.

Back in 2001, following a dream, at fifteen years old, Dede relocated from his village to Bali – Indonesia’s surf capital. Not long after, he was spotted by Rizal Tanjung, one of Indonesia’s most iconic surfers, and was taken under his wing and offered a lucrative sponsorship deal with Hurley International (a Californian surf brand owned by Nike). Not content to be the top surfer in Asia, Dede’s next step is to travel the world competing on the WQS (World Qualify System) with the aspiration of achieving his dream of being among the world’s best surfers.

What our documentary seeks to explore is how the identity of a Muslim surfer is able to negotiate the rapid cultural changes to his family’s way of life brought on by the ever-increasing influence of Wetern culture; how the dreams of a young man from a developing country are reconciled with a multi-million dollar industry that facilitates them and how Indonesia itself negotiates the financial, environmental and cultural effects of these changes.

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Mengejar Ombak follows Dede as he chases his surfing dream.

Opening in Dede’s home in Pelabuhan Ratu, our film, Mengejar Ombak, follows Dede over the course of one year and across 5 continents. The obstacle and triumphs presented to him along his journey will come not only in competition, but also in his response to new places and cultures, the volatile situation in Indonesia, financial gain, and the growing attention he receives. Moving from this central narrative the film interweaves interviews with leading cultural, historical and industry figures to explore the underlying issues Dede’s story raises.

Mengejar Ombak is not merely a simplistic portrayal of a competition with winners and losers, nor is it a naïve tale of small-village heroes against the villains of globalization; rather, it is an insight into the life of a young man attempting to assimilate the challenges to his faith and identity, a personal story that gives us a wider vision of the changes occurring in many developing countries, such as Indonesia, today.

Dave Arnold

This piece was first published in Kabar Vol. II, Issue 11, 2007.

Mengejar Ombak is directed by Dave Arnold and Tyrone Lebon and produced by Dave Arnold and Laurence Ellis. The film had its World Premiere at X-Dance Film Festival on Friday January 16th in Salt Lake City, Utah, a sports documentary festival that runs in conjunction with Sundance Film Festival (more info on the festival can be found at A further showing will be hosted by Hurley International on January 29th in Los Angeles. Premieres are planned for Indonesia (Cimaja, Jakarta, Bali) in late February and London in mid-March.

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