“If you love what you’re doing it ain’t work, it’s fun” – Warren Miller, Ski Filmmaker

Watching The Search For Freedom is like taking a vacation in your seat; we travel to vast and beautiful ocean shores, to gigantic snowy mountain tops, and even to giant rock boulders surrounded by dirt. Director Jon Long takes us to these places because that is where the subjects of his documentary – all professional or legendary figures in the world of action sports – find their happiness and purpose in life. It is here, in a barrel of a wave, kayaking off of a waterfall, or even free-falling from thousands of feet in the air, where they experience freedom. Aside from the mesmerizing footage and mind blowing athletics displayed here, the film sets out to answer one very simple question: What does freedom mean to you?

It’s clear from the subjects in the documentary that the pursuit of freedom is equal to the pursuit of happiness. This happiness is found by living in the moment, focusing on the now and the power of the unknown. The basic nature of every human being is the search for freedom, and Long gathers a Who’s Who of an ensemble cast that share insight into their respective sport, and demonstrate how they pursue it. Some of the cast includes skateboarders Tony Hawk and Danny Way, snowboarder Annie Boulanger, surfer Kelly Slater, rock climber Ron Kauk and ER doctor/ base jumper Glenn Singleman, to name a few. All of the interviews are passionate and from the heart, making for an inspiring and motivating watch.

Every other minute seems to be another epic montage that never fails to send chills down your spine and bring a smile to your face.

Aside from the athletes, The Endless Summer director Bruce Brown is interviewed, along with Quicksilver co-founder Bob McKnight and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. While they may not be as much of a “fear seeker” as the others, these men are responsible for taking the phenomenon of extreme sports and creating its attainability for the mainstream, which lead to the beginning of the lifestyle culture as we know it today. Long does an excellent job of compiling these engaging interviews and breathtaking footage to show how these activities are both fun and a way of life.

The Search For Freedom plays very linear and doesn’t stray from its thesis statement of “What is Freedom.” While visually arresting and undoubtedly beautiful, there is not much in the way of storytelling. We are really just looking at a photographic montage with inspirational quotes. Not to say this is a bad thing, you really do not have to invest any brain power into understanding what is on screen and so you can truly just sit back and relax. An anthemic soundtrack gives the film an extra boost of power.

The setting for this screening, here at the Newport Beach Film Festival, truly could not be better.  Every other minute seems to be another epic montage that never fails to send chills down your spine and bring a smile to your face. Jon Long and his cast prove that their passions are not just a sport, they are a way of life, and regardless if we’re a professional or an amateur, pursuing our passion and finding our freedom will lead us down the road to happiness.

The Search For Freedom had its world premiere April 24, with a planned theatrical release June 10th.