Fighting Fear

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Macario De Souza
  • Cast:Mark Matthews, Kelly Slater, Richie Vaculik
  • Release Date:November 10, 2011
  • Distributor:Garage
  • Running time:86 minutes
  • Film Worth:$16.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

With two compelling figures at its core, this engagingly honest and unapologetically positive doco makes for exciting and ultimately moving viewing.

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With his debut feature film, the 2007 documentary, Bra Boys, co-director Macario De Souza focused on a world that he knew intimately: the surfing culture that has become an essential, rusted-on element of the beachside Sydney suburb of Maroubra. That surfing culture has also spawned the titular territorial gang, and their occasionally violent activities ensured that the film's release grabbed headlines, and helped Bra Boys to become Australia's most financially successful documentary of all time. That's no small feat, and with his solo follow up effort (De Souza co-directed Bra Boys with Sunny Abberton), the young filmmaker has opted to go inward, rather than trying to top his first film. It's a wise move - comparisons can be odious, and with Fighting Fear, De Souza sticks to what he knows, but provides enough variation in his focus to show that he has several colours as a filmmaker.

With Fighting Fear, De Souza is still in Maroubra, but this time, he's telling a story that is resolutely positive in tone, and absolutely undeterred in its intention to promote change and provide inspiration. The documentary charts the fractious highs and lows of Macario De Souza's two best mates, both of whom also grew up in Maroubra, a scrappy patch of land shared by housing commission blocks, salt-encrusted locals, and now new residents lured in by the copious water views. Mark Matthews has carved out a successful career as a big wave surfer, slicing across waves of death-defying enormity all around the world, while fellow surfer Richie Vaculik is one of Australia's most promising Mixed Martial Arts fighters. As well as documenting their early, alcohol-fuelled brushes with the law, Fighting Fear shows the way in which both men have actively turned their lives around, and subsequently found success in their chosen fields.

Though the film occasionally has the feel of a pumped up sports DVD (there's a lot of finely rendered surfing footage that won't appeal to everyone), its energy and positivity is infectious. Down to earth but not afraid of pointed self-analysis, Mark Matthews and Richie Vaculik are hugely likeable and compelling documentary subjects, and their respective stories are at turns funny, thrilling and touching. Through them, De Souza shows that attending the school of hard knocks doesn't mean that you have to graduate to a life of crime. Fighting Fear is a film with a message and a purpose, and while some might see that as didactic, it's part of what gives this engagingly honest and cynicism-free documentary so much of its undeniable kick.

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