- Personal Doc, Nature, Lifestyle, Biography, and Portrait
Unable to ignore the call
of the ocean,
a civil engineer builds
his own fifty-three foot sailboat
and sets sail, transforming
his dream of life at sea
In jagged waters,
he is in turn transformed
from a man of hubris
to a man of humility.
- Show treatment
â€œThe Sundownerâ€ tells the story of an engineerâ€™s transformation from a sedentary â€œland-lubberlyâ€ manager
to an independent man of the sea. Jon Bendzâ€™s story shows that a â€œmid-life crisisâ€ doesnâ€™t have to mean es-
chewing work for play, as he combined the two by steadfastly achieving his life-long dream of building a boat
himself. It took six years of self-discipline, but Jon turned his ambition into a reality - the fifty-three foot
handcrafted sailboat he named The Sundowner.
The ocean had been calling his name, and Jon answered the call by spending nine years on board The
Sundowner, sporadically accompanied by his wife, Patti, his two sons, Jason and Joaquin, and his long-time
best friends, Tim Tomchak and Tom Benson. In the film, Tim reveals how intoxicating the call of ocean life
can be by recalling his days spent as Jonâ€™s deckhand. These personal moments are revealed in segments of
thought-to-be-lost VHS footage, providing a rare glimpse into what life was like on Jonâ€™s boat.
The planning and engineering of The Sundowner proved a steady match for heavy waters, and all of its crew
members considered it a beautiful, unstoppable achievement. The ship regularly withstood some of the
roughest waves the ocean could throw at it, creating pride and even arrogance in its crew, especially its builder.
Already living out an ambitious and fulfilling life, Jon decided to sail almost 8,000 miles through the Pacific
Ocean with his son, Joaquin, to attend the 2000 Olympic Games.
In September of 1998, the two men brashly set sail from Port Townsend, Washington, with the eventual
destination of Sydney, Australia. Confident in The Sundowner, as well as themselves as sailors, Jon and Joaquin
brushed off rough weather warnings from the Coast Guard and headed into the dangerous waters of the angry
North Pacific. The results of this voyage were life-changing.
Now, almost ten years later, Jon speaks modestly and humbly about the fifteen year period of his life involving
The Sundowner, and the ways in which it made him into a new man. â€œThe Sundownerâ€ is not only a story for
Jon, his family and friends, but also for anyone who has ever thought of tossing everything aside and setting
off into the wild blue yonder.
- Running time
- 19 minutes
- Steve Christolos ... Director
- Years of Production
- Bay Area, Northern California
- Release year
- Slamdance Film Festival, Santa Cruz Film Festival, Rincon International Film Festival, Fallbrook Film Festival, Dam Short Film Festival, Accolade Film Awards, Los Angeles Reel Film Festival, San Diego IndieFest
- 1st Runner Up at Dam Short Film Festival 2010
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