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Rob Machado's acclaimed film, 'The Drifter,' makes Southern California swing

November 4, 2009 |  1:59 pm


Rob Machado, the wild-haired iconic free surfer from Cardiff, does not refer to his recent six-month soul-searching odyssey in Indonesia as a midlife crisis, but as a journey of self-discovery far beyond his  comfort zone.

Indonesia was the theater, and "The Drifter" is the result. The film, directed by Taylor Steele and produced by Hurley and Warner Bros. Records, has opened to rave reviews in Japan, Hawaii and Australia, and is making its domestic tour this week, with a premier at the La Paloma Theater tonight in Encinitas (7 and 9 p.m.) and at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Los Angeles (8 p.m.) on Thursday night.

Machado, a stylish surfer and renowned humanitarian, just needed to get away, and during his travels he helped fund and construct a well for poor villagers. One scene shows Machado striking out on a lonesome road aboard a motorcycle he buys roadside on a whim, after he'd emerged from a taxi.

Machado spent three weeks in Bali, much of it surfing, but he also explored the outer islands of Indonesia. He missed home, but something inside wouldn't let him leave. He found ultimate solace on the island of Sumba, where he camped and surfed beautiful waves.

From a hilltop vista he remarks in the film, "A few months ago this might have felt lonely, but sometimes when you're most alone, you're not alone at all."

Sumba villagers embraced Machado and even posted a sentry near his tent during the night. He developed a special relationship with his new friends, who teach him the importance of family and people. Hence, the discovery:

"I thought that being completely isolated would bring me peace of mind, but now I realize that it is the people around us who bring our expectations to life," Machado says. "We dream of the perfect wave, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect love, and when we get there, we dream of something else, and the journey goes on."

Machado will attend the showings and answer questions afterward. A live webcast will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday for the Los Angeles showing. For more information and a schedule of showings, visit "The Drifter" website.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo of Machado in classic discovery mode courtesy of Dustin Humphrey / Reel Sessions ©