Bryan Jennings traveled halfway across the Pacific to film a documentary about an ambitious young surfer — one who, despite being an expert on the movie's contents, would never actually see it.
Jennings' "Beyond Sight: The Derek Rabelo Story," which will open an engagement Friday at the Regency Charter Centre Cinemas in Huntington Beach, tells the story of a Brazilian surfer who has been blind since birth. Since shooting wrapped, the co-director has sat through the film nearly a half-dozen times with Rabelo, and he's had the task of providing a running commentary.
"He would be like, 'What kind of wave did you put right here?'" said Jennings, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film. "I would say, 'Oh, that's Kelly Slater at Pipeline — he's on a great wave.' Or, 'This is you, Derek — you're surfing right now. That's why everyone's cheering.'"
Jennings and Rabelo have heard more than a little cheering as "Beyond Sight," which Jennings produced independently, has moved from theater to theater since its premiere in March. The director and star have followed it to theaters and engaged in question-and-answer sessions with the audience after screenings.
At the Regency, "Beyond Sight" will run through Aug. 21, with four shows per day. The duo will take feedback after the last two showings Friday and Saturday.
The Huntington screening comes after others in California, several other states and even Brazil.
Lena Connelly, house manager of the Krikorian San Clemente Cinema 6, where "Beyond Sight" premiered, said the film drew a steady crowd during its run there.
"It was kind of like a special event every time," she said. "[Jennings] would bring people in. He would have a Q-and-A before and after. There were always kids, always people coming to support."
Rabelo, who was not available for comment, took Jennings' crew with him when he ventured to Hawaii to surf the Pipeline, a notoriously difficult spot. Along the way, he garnered blessings and encouragement from famous surfers such as Slater and Bethany Hamilton, who appear in the film.
Rabelo's story so inspired the locals in Hawaii that they would order other surfers to stay back so the Brazilian visitor could catch the next wave, Jennings said.
"I would really encourage families to come out [to the movie] and bring their kids, whether they surf or not, because there's only so many movies and stories out there, true stories, that I believe can really encourage and inspire this generation," Jennings said.
If you go
What: "Beyond Sight: The Derek Rabelo Story"
Where: Regency Charter Centre Cinemas, 7822 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach
When: 1:45, 3:40, 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. Friday through Aug. 21 (Bryan Jennings and Derek Rabelo will appear after the last two screenings Friday and Saturday.)
Information: (760) 438-1111 or beyondsightmovie.com