Santa Cruz Surf Film Festival

Surfing and Santa Cruz seem to go hand in hand.  Santa Cruz battled it out with Huntington Beach to officially be called “Surf City, USA.”  They lost, but surf culture is quite ubiquitous in the Northern California coastal town.  The internationally known O’Neill surf brand was created here.  Surfing is an extra curricular in the schools.  My next door neighbor is a retired pro-surfer.  It seems only natural for the city to put on a surf film festival.  And that is what they are doing this fall.  It’s a very specific topic to focus an entire film festival on, but the line-up of films shows there is an endless amount of fascinating subject matter within the world of surfing. The ocean is the stage for these films and we all know how well it lends itself to photography.  The beauty and the mystery of the sea captures the attention of all walks of life.  And the stories of the ocean-lovers that live their lives in the waves will captivate audiences, as well.

The six features of the official 2014 selection are all documentaries.  The Old, The Young, and the Sea takes a look at the “European leg,” the stretch of surfing coast along the Atlantic, from the southwest of France, through Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal.  It highlights all sorts of ocean lovers, not just surfers, but fisherman and vagabonds and people who feel a deep connection with the deep blue sea.  Tierra de Patagones follows the “Gauchos Del Mar” brothers on the their surf expedition to the southern most surf spot in the world, Patagonia.  Lakey Peterson: Zero to 100 is one of the girl power films in the festival.  It’s the inspiring life story of Lakey Peterson who rose quickly in the ranks of women’s surfing.  She is considered to be one of the most progressive female surfers in the world.  The film documents Lakey’s childhood as a little grom and tomboy to the pro-surfer and philanthropist she is today.  Oney Anwar: Chasing the Dream is having it’s world premiere at the Santa Cruz Surf Film Fest.  Oney Anwar is chasing his dream of becoming the most respected surfer to come out of Indonesia, chronicling his beginnings in the small jungle village of Sumbawa to training in Australia to fundraising to surf Bali with his brother.  Beyond the Surface is part girl power and part earth power.  The film focuses on India and features Ishita Malaviya, India’s first female surfer, yoga, ecological awareness, and a basic love and respect for humanity.  Out in the Line-Up sheds light on homosexuality in the surf community.  It is taboo to be out of the closet and out on the waves and this film brings the forbidden topic to the forefront.  Oney Anwar and Beyond the Surface will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers.

The selection of shorts consists of an eclectic mix of films.  There are documentaries about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and its recovering surf community, pollution and development in a Balinese paradise, and the trend of finless surfing.  There are short biopics of compelling individuals such as Elizabeth, the 52 year old surf addict, Léa Brassy who traded the warm waters of the South of France for the nordic waves of Norway, and Clark Little, a fearless shorebreak photographer and surfer who goes to great lengths and risks for his epic shots.  There is even an animated entry about a bookmark surfing the waves of a book and a sci-fi film about aliens who light up the ocean with their night surf sessions.

Check out Santa Cruz Surf Film Festival for tickets, dates and times and for the panel of judges which includes Flea, 3-time Mavericks winner, and Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, legendary longboarder and star of Endless Summer II. Each film in the program is guaranteed to transport you all over the world, to introduce you to interesting characters of all ages and backgrounds and to deepen your connection to the earth and its waters.


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