The story itself spans more than half a century.
The documentary was nine years in the making.
And this Saturday, Gidget of Malibu is headed east, as “Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story,” a 60-minute documentary produced by Brian L. Gillogly and Master Communication, arrives for two showings at the Orlando Film Festival, where it has been nominated in two separate categories: Best Documentary and Most Inspiring.
Orlando Sentinel Entertainment Critic Roger Moore calls the documentary “engaging.” Showings are at 4:00 pm on Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday.
You know Gidget, for her story has been told time and time again, first through a bestselling novel, and then on the big screen and television.
The real Gidget, of course, is Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, who, in the mid-50s, was your typical teenager who showed up at Malibu one summer, learned to surf and just so happened to capture it all in a diary. Her father, Frederick Kohner, turned the endless summer’s account into a best-selling novel in 1957.
Next came the further fictionalized hit movie starring Sandra Dee and James Darren, and with it, the masses. Anyone who didn’t know about surfing did now, and the sport changed forever.
More than fifty years after the fact, and at least an equal number of story embellishments, Zuckerman, who will be in attendance in Orlando, gets to offer her own account of the Gidget story in the documentary and is backed up by an impressive number of icons who were not only there, but were inspired by her, as well, including actors, Sally Field, Cliff Robertson, James Darren, and Gregory Harrison, and surf legends Lance Carson, Mike Doyle, Mickey Munoz, Layne Beachly, Kassia Meador, and former U.S. Champion Jericho Poppler Bartlow.
“Gidget was my beginning, and I loved her,” says Oscar-winning actress Sally Field, who portrayed the teenager in the television series “Gidget” for one season in 1965-66. “She will always be a part of me.”
“I remember thinking, “If Gidget could do it, I know I can,” recounts Bartlow in the documentary.
Narrated by Jorja Fox of CBS’s “CSI” the documentary aired back in March at Australia’s Noosa Festival of Surfing and received rave reviews by both the surfing and motion picture industries.
“The excitement was tremendous, more than for any other film we screened, and we screened some significant films,” said Kim Jackson, Executive Director of the Malibu Celebration of Film. “At the screening, it was a treat to see such a joyous reaction from the audiences. They were thrilled, and so were we.”
After a highly successful showing at the Newport Film Festival in April, the doc garnered further positive reviews when it returned to the Malibu pier in September. Earlier this month, the doc showed at the California Surf Festival in Oceanside, where LA Times writer Irene Lechowitzky considered it the ‘showstopper” in her recent article, adding: “Gidget rules the roost!”
“The surf community has accepted the story,” says Zuckerman. “And they’ve accepted me, and that makes me feel good. But I think Brian has moved it a step further by having a visual, which I just think is terrific, and people are stoked by it, you know? The reactions are always like, ‘We loved it! We loved it!'”
Perhaps the success thus far can be traced to the fact that Producer Gillogly, himself, is every bit as spunky and tenacious as the subject of his film.
“I admire Brian, because he didn’t give up,” says Zuckerman. “He worked nine years on this film. There was a tenacity about his filmmaking that sort of paralleled the tenacity that I had when I was 15, to want to be a part of the surf community, to get out there and learn how to surf. To overcome the ‘Let’s bury her surfboard. Let’s disconnect the distributor of her car,’ you know? I would say to Jerry Hurst, ‘I’m not bothering you guys.’ And he would say, ‘You’re still breathing.’ So those were teenage obstacles that I overcame, and I’m glad the people in the surf community welcomed me. I mean, the Malibu Surfing Association just took me in as an Honorary Member. How cool is that?” “
If you’re on the east coast, this weekend is your chance to see “Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story,” when makes its Florida debut at the Orlando Film Festival. Showings are at 4:00 pm on Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday.
Aloha. Be there!
For tickets, surf over to http://www.ticketgenie.com/orlando-film-festival