With the Olympics currently in full swing, we’re seeing badass women kicking butt on a daily basis. Whether it’s Simone Manuel making history in the pool as the first African-American woman to win swimming gold in an individual event, or the whole American gymnastics team defying the laws of physics over and over again like it’s no big deal, women in sports are killing it.
So the timing couldn’t be better for the 4th annual Women’s Surf Film Festival, taking place this weekend at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club.
Davina Grincevicius, an Aussie transplant who’s been involved in both surfing and filmmaking for years, decided to combine her two passions by organizing this weekend-long event.
The series kicked off four years ago with the mission of making surfing and filmmaking more accessible to women.”We wanted to see more women trying to learn how to surf,” Grincevicius said. “It was all about empowerment, because it is an exciting, fun sport.”
As you might guess, Grincevicius is really into surf films, which are great ways to showcase different surf cultures and experiences when it’s not exactly easy to be a jet setting surfer– hey, we’ve got the Rockaways! “You learn about these other places you’ve never gone to, and you learn so much about traveling and other surfing experiences,” she said. “Every surf film has a backstory; it’s about the community, it heightens the level of connection.”
Tonight marks the launch of the weekend’s festivities, with an opening reception at 6 pm with plenty of booze to get everyone in a surf-appropriate chill mood, and Prima Donna, an exhibition spotlighting the work of Australian photographer Fran Miller, and the artist’s first solo show. Miller’s work involves maybe the most beautiful genre of sports photography: surf photos shot all over the globe.
The first screenings start at 9 pm, beginning with shorts. Submissions came from places as diverse as Norway, Indonesia, Australia, UK, Spain, and South Africa gracing the screen. Grincevicius explained that each year, she’s made an effort to show films from every continent on the planet, and the vast majority of submissions were directed by women.
On Saturday evening at 7 pm, two feature length films are up: It Ain’t Pretty, directed by Dayla Soul, which is described as a documentary following “female big wave surfers” and the sexism they face in competitions, as well as in the media. Once again, there’s that word “empowerment”– something that’s mirrored across different aspects of the film fest– here, it appears in the film’s description which explicitly outlines a mission of inspiring a new generation of young girls “in hope that they overcome the barriers they face along the way.” The women in the doc spend their time chasing bigger and bigger waves, always searching for the next challenge– and it’s clear that the women behind the camera are similarly tenacious about breaking boundaries in an overwhelmingly male-dominated sport.
Then there’s Women and the Waves 2, a follow-up to director Heather Hudson’s first effort, which continues to track six women and their personal stories of dedicating their lives to surfing.
In order to wrap things up on Sunday, the organizers will be hosting “a very casual breakfast and surf session,” Grincevicius said. In fact, Grincevicius, in typical Aussie fashion, said that she was “really trying to keep it informal and genuine, so that everyone feels comfortable to meet and surf.” Some of the filmmakers will be on hand too (possibly with free snacks in their midst).
People are invited to come along, rent boards or bring their own, give the waves a go, or simply sit back and take in the atmosphere. “We’re all just going to surf and have fun,” Grincevicius said. “Come as you are!”
The Fourth Annual NYC Women’s Surf Film Festival, Friday August 12 at 6 pm, Saturday August 13 at 7 pm, and Sunday August 14 from 7 pm to 11 pm, at The Rockaway Beach Surf Club.