Ian Walsh Hosts “Distance Between Dreams” Premiere in Newport

March 7, 2017 • News

Written by Danielle Abbruzzi — On Saturday, February 18th, Red Bull Media House hosted an exclusive East Coast screening of Distance Between Dreams at Newport, Rhode Island’s, historic Jane Pickens Theater. This was a special night for the film’s star, Ian Walsh, who was born in Rhode Island but grew up in Maui. Ian’s parents Kitty and Peter moved their family to Maui from Newport more than 30 years ago and  stood beside him onstage as he spoke to a sold-out room of 472 guests.

The Jane Pickens Theatre with a glorious marquee. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Alongside Mom and Dad was Ian’s Godfather, Sid Abbruzzi, and director of the film, Rob Bruce. For Ian’s Newport family and friends, the film was much anticipated, and the fact that Ian flew all the way from Hawaii to Rhode Island in the middle of the busy winter wave season ensured the big turnout. Voted Best Documentary at the 2016 Surfer Poll Awards, Distance Between Dreams has been universally lauded as one of the best films in recent memory.

The Walsh family with director Robert Bruce, Original Water Brother Sid Abbruzzi, and friends. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Speaking to the audience, Ian paid homage to his East Coast roots. “This town means so much to me than I can’t put it into words. My first waves were ridden down at First Beach and Second Beach right in front of Sid’s old shop. My initial introduction to the ocean happened here. Every time I come here feels like I’m coming home. And that’s a gigantic testimony to you guys and this community and what you uphold.”

Ian on stage before the premiere of “Distance Between Dreams.” Photo: Jessica Pohl

Distance Between Dreams documents a day in the life of Ian Walsh, but in addition to Jaws-dropping surfing, it’s also a heartfelt story of a family and their support for one another. Featured in the film are Walsh’s brothers DK, Shaun, and Luke Walsh, along with current WSL World Champion John John Florence and fellow chargers Greg Long and Shane Dorian. With a focus on paddle surfing into big waves versus the tow-in method, Ian and the boys show us the next-level preparation and protection that surfers undergo to get in the water and ride massive waves, let alone survive a wipeout and get back to safety.

Ian tackling Jaws. Photo: Red Bull Media House

Ian with his brother Luke Walsh. Photo: Red Bull Media House

Director Rob Bruce said during an interview, “99.9% of surfers do not understand what goes into big-wave riding. There is so much work, training, and commitment.” Bruce, who lives in LA, is also an original East Coaster — he surfed his first waves in Westerly, RI. A former downhill ski racer, Rob left the sport to enter film school. He admired big personalities and 2002 first met Ian and his family in Maui. “I wanted to show people what they do, who they are, and what their world is,” Bruce said. “Ian is well-spoken, and all four Walsh boys are each their own individual. But like brothers going to battle, they keep an eye on each other to be sure they are all as safe as possible.” Bruce referred to Ian and his brothers’ bond and the sacrifice of their parents as the “backbone story” of the film.

Film director Rob Bruce, who himself caught his first wave in Westerly. “Distance Between Dreams'” Rhode Island roots run deep. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian with his brother DK Walsh at Jaws. Photo: Red Bull Media House

Ian tackling Jaws. Photo: Red Bull Media House

Everyone in Rhode Island sends big thanks to Ian and Red Bull Media House for giving us Nor’easters 60 minutes of El Niño swells and Hawaiian sun in the middle of February! Distance Between Dreams is available on iTunes; visit www.distancebetweendreams.com for info on upcoming premieres.

Two happy New England customers in Jon Baylor and Ashley Roane — and how could they not be after Distance Between Dreams transported everyone to Hawaii for 60 minutes in the middle of February? Photo: Jessica Pohl

Christopher “Slash” Garcia, in the house. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian and his dad Peter. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian with his aunt Mimi Carrellas and local groms. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Pat Kirwin, Benny Landers, and Phil Landers. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Sid Abbruzzi, Marco Prokop, and Wes Lewis. Photo: Jessica Pohl

When John John Florence figures heavily in your movie, you’re doing OK. Photo: Red Bull Media House

Water Brothers, always running deep in Newport. Photo: Jessica Pohl

“Dear Mr. Redney, thank you for my leash. Ian Walsh.” Dude’s been a solid human since the day he was born. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian with his aunt Mimi Carrellas. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian’s cousin Maddie Carrellas (second from right) and friends. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Ian’s dad Peter Walsh takes a bow. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Sid Abbruzzi, Ian Walsh’s godfather, gives a shout-out to the crowd of nearly 500. Photo: Jessica Pohl

Distance Between Dreams Premiere

Story author, premiere co-organizer, and all-around badass Danielle Abbruzzi. Thanks for all your hard work making this wonderful night happen! Photo: Jessica Pohl


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