CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FILMS IN THE HISTORY OF SURFING, THE AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY “LEARNING TO BREATHE” EXPLORES THE TROUBLED EVOLUTION OF PROFESSIONAL SURFING LEGEND ANTHONY RUFFO. RUFFO’S LEGENDARY SURFING ABILITY AND CHARISMATIC PERSONALITY MADE HIM A ROLE MODEL IN THE SANTA CRUZ SURFING COMMUNITY, AND WHEN HE FELL INTO SPIRALING ADDICTION AND CRIMINALITY, HE TOOK A PORTION OF THE SURFING WORLD WITH HIM. FACING A FAILING REPUTATION AND 5 YEARS IN STATE PRISON, RUFFO MUST FINALLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT HE HAS MADE ON HIS COMMUNITY. HE STRIVES TO REPAIR HIS BROKEN LIFE, BUT THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES THAT THE COURT WILL SYMPATHIZE WITH RUFFO’S EFFORTS.
ANTHONY’S SURFING PAST, METHAMPHETAMINE ADDICTION, CRIMINALITY, AND EVENTUAL RECOVERY ARE DISPLAYED CANDIDLY IN “LEARNING TO BREATHE”. THOSE SURROUNDING ANTHONY, INCLUDING SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST SURFERS, DISCUSS ANTHONY’S RISE TO FAME AND SPIRAL INTO DARKNESS. FOR THE FIRST TIME, ATHLETES INCLUDING ANTHONY RUFFO, PETE MEL, DARRYL VIROSTKO AND CHRISTIAN FLETCHER, BREAK THE CODE OF SILENCE IN THE SURFING INDUSTRY AND OPEN UP ABOUT THEIR OWN ADDICTION ISSUES, DISCUSSING THE PROBLEM OF DRUG USE IN THE PROFESSIONAL SURFING COMMUNITY.
“Learning to Breathe” is the most important surf film of 2013 PERIOD.It strays away from the normal confines of surf cinema to scrutinize an underbelly most do not want to even think about. I applaud Rocky Romano for taking on this challenging subject matter and creating such a profound piece of work.”
– Pierce Michael Kavanagh, President of The San Diego Surf Film Festival
“The documentary portrays a sad and complex reality that goes beyond the surf community. This alone would be a big deal, a big step for us surfers, however the script is sewed to make us experience the situation and continue impressing the paradox of despair and hope that remains even after we left the theater. There are not just surf stars showing how survive the trap of drugs but an unfinished frame of how we all have to deal with it every day. You come out of this dark sea and feel still wet to the bones.”
- Edinho Leite,ESPN Brazil
“Learning to Breathe” is an incredible cautionary tale that takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride that is Professional surfer Anthony Ruffo’s life. Rocky Romano weaves an incredibly gripping narrative of this fallen hero and the lack of responsibility and acknowledgment of the action sports industry’s drug problem. “Learning to Breathe” is a must see film for both surf enthusiasts and a much wider audience.”
– Tyler Breuer,Director of SMASH FEST NYC
“In light of the passing of world champion Andy Irons and the Ruffo documentary, mainstream media like HBO and the New York Times picked up on the issue of drugs in surfing, and while the ASP won’t admit that any one particular incident had an effect on their policy making, in 2012 they a enacted a drug testing policy at all world tour events. Finally the issue of drugs, and in particular hard drugs like meth, is being talked about and people are taking it more seriously.Surfing’s no different than any other cross-section of our culture, there are always going to be users, abusers, etc, but the more we run from it the more damaging it becomes. Ruffo and Rocky have done a commendable job bringing this issue to the open, and that’s exactly what a good documentary should do.”
-Jake Howard,ESPN USA
“Excellent. I want as many people as possible to see it. It’s not just a Santa Cruz story. It’s a story about surfing (and humans in general) that can happen anywhere. One of the best surf related documentaries I’ve ever seen”
– Dave Mailman,Former President Association of Surfing Professionals Europe
“Learning to Breathe is a courageous film.Anthony Ruffo bares his soul to the camera in a way you rarely, if ever, see in a surf movie. His story is brutally honest and revealing. Rocky Romano should be praised for having the guts to make this film. He opens up a can of worms the surf establishment has long been sitting on. I found the interviews with Peter Mel, Flea and Skindog especially poignant and emotional. Their recounts of Anthony’s life, their own battles and experiences with addicts and the surf industries role as enablers are hard hitting and gripping.”
- Ari Luri,President of The Mill Valley Surf Film Festival