Wax On, Wax Off: Film Reviews from California Surf Festival

We mentioned that some of the best films screened at the California Surf Festival in Oceanside this past weekend were viewed by only a few people. A couple of these less seen, less appreciated films are worth taking a look at. 

On Friday, at the old Brooks theater, a meager crowd of viewers watched an interesting screening that seemed to have a kind of social justice theme. The two films shown were Verve, a short film about the Black Surfing Association and Malibu's Soul Surf Classic contest, and Dear N Yonder, a new look at women in surfing. Verve gets high marks for its subject matter. It touches a weak spot in surf culture's free-thinking, liberal attitude. Filmmaker Suyen Mosley addresses the fact that Southern California's millions-strong Black population is grossly underrepresented in the sport and culture of surfing.

In Verve's 10 minutes or so of home video quality footage, Mosley manages to interview a surprising number of surfers about their thoughts on surfing's racial disparity. Most white interviewees confessed to knowing only a few black surfers. Some knew none. A few said they'd heard of that before, but never seen it in person. Several Black surfers made the point that participation in surfing is based on access to the coast and to equipment, transportation and time necessary to discover surfing.

Inner city kids, regardless of race, lack the means and access to surfing that kids in Malibu or Orange County might experience on a daily basis. But the film also exposes the growing interest in surfing within the black community, a phenomenon that in fact dates back to the 1960s and the founding of the Black Surfing Association.

Also sponsored by Fysh Out of Water and Surf Noir, Inc., Verve points out up and coming black surfers and looks forward to a day when people living in the inner city have the opportunity to explore surfing. As one black surfer said, “I think everyone should try [surfing] once.” Despite an obviously low budget and cinematography that was shaky at best, check out Verve for a thoughtful look at race issues in the world of surfing.

Dear N Yonder immediately followed Verve. The subject of women in surfing is not the unexplored territory that Verve explores. In fact, women in surfing has become a token section of many mainstream surf films. But none have quite approached the issue the way director Tiffany Campbell and producer Andria Lessler have with Dear N Yonder. In 2009, the film won Surfer Magazine's award for “Best Documentary” in 2009 for its awesome footage and rich exploration of the world of girls who surf. Beginning with the history of female surfing (which is, by the way, just as old as that of dudes), the film goes on to explore the here and now of girls who surf.

The emotions conjured up by this lovely movie range from weighty and historical, to sporty and victorious, to sensitive and downright cute. Guys will watch this film and be impressed, educated, and probably smitten. Girls will be inspired and grateful for this look at their world that is really unlike any other. Surfers featured in Dear N Yonder include Prue Jeffries, Kassia Meador, Sofia Mulanovich and many more.
For more about the films at the California Surf Festival, go to http://www.californiasurffestival.com/

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