Joan Lind Van Blom Documentary Premiering At Film Festival

Documentary film making has an incredible ability to shift people’s perspective, and the new film about legendary Long Beach rower Joan Lind Van Blom, “Kiss The Joy,” will do exactly that when it premieres at the Newport Beach Film Festival at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Lido Theater.

Lind Van Blom, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, was the first woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States in rowing in 1976. She also had a 35-year career with the Long Beach Unified School District as a physical education teacher and curriculum leader. Lind Van Blom died in 2015 after a spirited battle with brain cancer.

“It’s a little tough for me to watch it,” Joan’s husband John Van Blom said of the documentary that chronicles Lind Van Blom’s life.

“The last part gets a little emotional,” he said.

Director Jean Strauss trained with Lind Van Blom at Marine Stadium in 1979-80, and was surprised to find out no one had told her story.

“It was a privilege working with Joan,” Strauss said. “Like many women of my era, she was my idol. She was the benchmark that I aimed at.”

Strauss lived in the Van Blom house during the last few months of Joan’s life, and said it was challenging to find film and photos from her life.

“It’s amazing how (Strauss) took all of these fragments to make something,” John said. “When she started she didn’t know which story she was going to tell. She was just collecting footage, and the way she put it together is pretty remarkable.”

Van Blom said the documentary isn’t just about his wife’s athletic prowess.

“The theme that runs though it is Joan’s positive attitude through everything,” John said. “Even when she knew she was dying she just wanted to live life and enjoy the time she had.”

Tickets are on sale at the Newport Beach Film Festival website www.newportbeachfilmfest.com

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.