For the last few days in Santa Cruz, the community has been humming both positively and negatively about local pro surfer Anthony Ruffo’s self-titled documentary “Ruffo.” Over and over I am talking with people who think this is a last ditch effort for Anthony to get himself out of jail time, that he really isn’t focused on helping the community he has poisoned for so many years.
The Santa Cruz Film Festival celebrated its 10th year in business as it brought the week of independent films to a close Saturday night at the Rio Theater with the showing of the film, listed as a work in progress.
Producer Rocky Romano explained that in order to submit to Sundance Film Festival the movie could not be premiered in its entirety.
I have known Anthony for over 15 years. I watched him go through his first stumbling with drugs and thought he had really learned his lesson. Unfortunately, I know that once you are an addict you always are an addict and this time Ruffo slipped far into the world of methamphetamines. Once this drug grips you, it becomes a disease.
On July 14, 2010, life came to a screeching halt as a police raid and an ounce of almost pure meth turned up at the Westside Santa Cruz residence Ruffo and his drug using acquaintances occupied.
It was not looking good for the 20-year professional surfer and local icon who faces a five-year California State Prison sentence and his fate lies directly in the hands of District Attorney Bob Lee. As of press time his court date has been postponed until September 19.
Enter Genie O’Malley and her non-profit Clean Mind Healthy Planet – it was at this juncture film mastermind Rocky Romano started documenting the path to positive living through community interaction and involvement with other addicts and the emotional roller coaster of support, admonishment and trying to help youth to stay off drugs.
The brutally honest “Ruffo” takes twists and turns though the last six years of Anthony’s life and the ins and outs of what hardcore drug addiction leads to, the people it destroys and the negative impacts it has on everyone.
One moment Ruffo is talking about being ripped-off at gunpoint only to have the robbers carelessly leave behind the main stash of cash and dope. Another time he mentions fellow pro surfer Bryce Ellis’s shock when Anthony and a drug dealer were driving around high and counting money.
With testimony from surfers, Peter Mel, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Ken “Skindog” Collins, Shawn Dollar, Shane Desmond, Tyler Fox and community activists Kyle Thiermann, Lars Shallberg and me, the message to the audience as well as Ruffo was resoundingly clear – get of the drugs and live positively.
I really liked how the documentary mixed in the flavor of Santa Cruz surfing culture and how the negative of one man’s addiction is being turned into a postive for community involvement.
By no means does it mean Anthony Ruffo is off the hook for his crimes, but what I think most people would like to see is for him to use his past to educate the future: and to stay off drugs.
If there's one message this film gives to everyone it's this: don't even start using drugs. Find your highs in other ways, like surfing.
Local surfer/filmer Kyle Buthman also gave the audience a sneak trailer to “Get Rad 2” and local sufer/social activist Kyle Thiermann premiered his 4 minute short Where is Away: Solving Plastic Pollution in 4 minutes