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Heartland Film Festival: Time Well Spent

by on October 11, 2018
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I love surfing. I love the act of surfing (I was never good at it), watching it and the transformational element of being on a board in the ocean and how everything else just disappears. I was drawn to surfing from an early age. I actually received a call from a surfing magazine confirming my Indiana address when I was a teenager. It’s an odd obsession for a midwestern boy, but it continues even today. So when I had the chance to check out a documentary about a surfing trip transforming four young men’s lives I jumped at it and I’m so happy I did.

To say I loved James Fazio’s “Time Well Spent” would be an understatement. The story of four young men, each of whom have dealt with their own unique struggle, is profoundly beautiful in how it uses the waves to illustrated how life is in constant motion and while someone will have down moments a better swell is just on the horizon.

Fazio tells the story of Kross (Hawaii), Declan (Australia), Yeferson (Peru) and Henry (Indonesia), four young men from separate parts of the globe, but with one underlying passion – surfing. Another thing they each share is a past that was shaped by hardships and struggles. One experienced the death of his father, one was homeless and two share similar stories of living on the streets before being taken in by caring people.

As Kross, Declan and Yeferson head off to Panama, Henry learns his visa has been denied and he won’t be able to attend the trip with the others. But instead of letting his adventure stop before it even gets started, Fazio arranges for Henry to travel to another part of Indonesia and have a journey all his own.

While their dreams of surfing one of the best spots in Panama are coming true, Fazio has a plan to also transform their lives by giving them the chance to give back to others.

In addition to delivering filter systems that give many small villages fresh drinking water for the first time, the boys in Panama build a family a home. This affects Kross especially hard since one of his specters of the past was being homeless with his family. His struggling to speak while handing the keys over to the family is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring.

Each step of the way the boys drop the walls they’ve spent years building culminating in an emotional roundtable scene where the emotions themselves are too much to hold in any longer. I loved how this scene was shot as we don’t actually hear anything the boys are revealing as they all release the weight that’s been tugging at them from their pasts.

“Time Well Spent” is their story of growth. Fazio’s concept of throwing four young strangers together for mutual benefit works wonderfully. The film is beautifully shot, the stories are impactful and Fazio’s message of not letting your past define you is so relevant at this point in history. “Time Well Spent” reminds us that while our pasts are something that will always be part of who we are, it doesn’t have to define who we are or what we can become.




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