CFF 2024: Our Review of ‘Wild Goat Surf’

Posted in Festival Coverage by - March 21, 2024
CFF 2024: Our Review of ‘Wild Goat Surf’

Set during the summer of 2003, we catch up with 13-year-old Rell Anderson (Shaleyin Martin). Everyone around her Penticton home affectionately knows her as Goat. She along with,  her mother Jane (Caitlyn Sponheimer)  illegally sublet their apartment for extra cash during the busy summer months. Relegated to a mobile home in a rundown trailer park, Goat spends most of her time up to all sorts of mischief as her mother is rarely around. Befriending Nate (Leandro Guedes), a gullible, shy teen whose family camps next to them for the summer, Goat manages to cause trouble, dragging Nate along with her throughout the summer. All the while, Goat daydreams of surfing like her father, who has never been a part of her life aside from her fantasies.

Wild Goat Surf  heavily inspired by The Florida Project. Itplaces a lot of the weight of succeeding firmly on the shoulders of newcomer Shayelin Martin. Writer/Director Sponheimer plays the mother, but due to the nature of her character constantly working, she effectively manages to lead from behind the camera as well. The relationship between Caitlyn and Shaeylin in front of the camera is full of strong chemistry, allowing Shayelin to deliver an excellent performance.

Very little happens in the film, but it’s still an efficient character study of a girl  alone, without direction or a role model, learning some hard lessons as her reckless actions start to have consequences. Sponheimer wisely allows the children to remain the focus which allows the audience to witness Goat’s growth on their own.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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