Sunshine Superman

Synopsis: A heart-racing documentary portrait of Carl Boenish, the father of the BASE jumping movement, whose early passion for skydiving led him to ever more spectacular -and dangerous- feats of foot-launched human flight.
Director(s): Marah Strauch
Production: Magnolia Pictures
  3 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
100 min


They had a perfect moment in time.

That's as much as that cliff

was going to give them.

I'm glad that she got in her car

and drove off.

Because if she would have hung out

any longer,

it was like the entire mountain

was going to fall on top of her.

That cliff had it out for them

or something.

I don't know what it was but it just

didn't end well for the Boenishes.

Nothing happens by chance.

Every single thing that ever happens,

happens for a reason.

Happens due to the law of the universe.

And it's just incumbent upon me

to figure out enough

what those laws are and obey those laws.

I feel that when I jump off a cliff,

I'm obeying those laws of the universe,

including gravity.

- Ready?

- I'm ready.

OK. Four, three, two, one, go.

We've moved over to the mid-point

of our newsroom

to get away from

the mainstream news of the day

and look at some more unusual things

going on.

Of course, I have been the one

with the more unusual things going on

for most of the day.

One of them is the growing fad

of parachuting from skyscrapers.

Especially here in Los Angeles. And you

pursued that yesterday afternoon.

Downtown Los Angeles is a natural

for this sort of thing.

In particular, the high-rise

construction boom is a big attraction.

Because the unfinished buildings

usually have little security,

jumpers can make it secretly

to the top and make their jumps.

Not too many years ago, this sport

wouldn't have worked in Los Angeles

because there were no true

high-rise buildings.

But now several buildings

are above 50 stories tall

and skyscraper skydiving is a big sport.

It is also illegal.

We almost feel like we're

astronauts walking on the moon.

It just gives us a feeling of power

and of joy.

We want to share it with the world

but every time we try to,

people can't relate because,

in a sense, it's out of their realm.

When I first started this story,

I thought that's a crazy thing.

Why would anyone want to do that?

But after talking for a while

with those people

and hearing the thrill they get from it,

I have to admit it's a little tempting.

- No!

- Only a little, but it is.


My guest's name rhymes with Danish.

His name is Carl Boenish.

You are a cinematographer, A,

but you are, B, a cliff jumper.

I want to say that again

so people know I meant to say it.

Cliff jumper. You jump off cliffs, Carl.

You do do that?

Yes, I do, Pat.

One of my mottos is

there's no future in growing up.

I just never want to grow up.

Most people, I guess they grow old.

I don't want to grow old or grow up.

I don't want to be childish.

But I think there are a lot of virtues

in being childlike.

Because if you study a child, he hasn't

been taught what he can't do.

- We all do a lot of praying.

- You do pray?

I think a lot of this comes

from a metaphysical basis, even.

A spiritual basis.

I think that the biggest aspect to why

I do this is for rejuvenation.

Because if I can master these goals, it

improves every other department in life.

I think that if a group of people

can watch me jump off a building

and be successful, they can say,

"Well, I probably don't want to do that

but maybe I could bowl

that perfect 300 game."

He was a guy that was everything

and everywhere all at once.

And he had this crazy infectious

enthusiasm. And he would laugh.

And he would fly over to the piano

and play some classical riffs

and then he would talk about

quantum mechanics.

And then he would get a little weepy

and then he'd wax nostalgic

about some job that he had.

Then we'd go out

and jump on the trampoline.

It was like a stream of consciousness.

Half from hell and half from, you know,

some better world somewhere.

I mean, it was really an interesting

kind of thing being around this guy.

Our father's name was Carl.

And Ronnie was Carl,

so at home, we always called him Ronnie.

My brother got polio

from a polio vaccine.

They weren't sure he was going to live.

But he survived it.

And for his recovery he was in

a wheelchair and couldn't walk.

His legs were really weak.

So he spent his time

playing the piano.

When he had polio, he missed

a whole year of elementary school.

But once he finally got cleared

and could go back to school,

he challenged every boy in his class

one at a time

until he could beat them

in a foot race.

And he beat every one of them.

He talked to me a lot about

his birth mother leaving.

And I think that touched him deeply.

Then he was in high school

and he was, you know,

very intellectual

and always doing his calculus.

So he had just finished college

when I was born

and started working for Hughes Aircraft

as an electrical engineer.

Once he got into skydiving

he just changed.

They're always pulling you in.

You're part of a group.

You have to fly together.

So he changed completely.

You used to be an engineer.

Pretty safe, secure type job.

When and how did you make

the decision to give that all up

and go into doing this,

what you like to do, full time?

It's funny.

My boss at Hughes Aircraft told me,

"Carl, the man who knows how

will always have a job."

"The man who knows why

will be his boss."

And at that time I knew how to design

electrical circuits.

I knew how to skydive.

But I knew why to skydive

much better than I knew

why the electronic circuits worked.

OK, new sheet of paper.

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Marah Strauch

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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