News: Byron Bay Film Festival Showcases Surfing Diversity

by Amy in News

The latest Byron Bay International Film Festival has showcased the vast array of new themes and stories that are being told in the latest surf films.

As one of the most popular beach spots on the north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay has a reputation for its surf lifestyle and culture, making this film festival one of the top spots to see exciting new surf films.

The Byron Bay Film Festival (BBFF) team describe the annual event as “Australia’s independent showcase for the edgiest filmmakers on the planet”, with organisers saying that 2014’s selection has the best lineup of surf films so far.

“This year’s official selection is without doubt our most exciting yet. It’s the first year I’ve had to turn away excellent surf films simply because we already had too many. It’s a nice problem to have,” Festival Director J’aimee Skippon-Volke says.

The surf films screened for the 8th Byron Bay Film Festival featured surf films from all around the globe, including the World Premiere of American film A Life Outside – which tells the story of New Jersey surfers who pioneered the renowned surf break at Casino Pier in the 1960s – and Covelong Point, a film exploring cultural changes in the first surfing village in India.

But the unanimous standout surf film for the festival was the groundbreaking Australian documentary Out In The Line Up, which looks at homophobia in surfing through the eyes of two gay surfers – former state champ David Wakefield and French-Australian surfer Thomas Castets – who aim to bring the issue out into the open.

Image: liquidsaltmag.com

Directed by Ian Thompson, the documentary features the perspectives of a wide range of professionals in the surf community, including World Longboarding Champion Cori Schumacher and big-wave rider Keala Kennelly. It was awarded the Best Surf Film at the Byron Bay Film Festival and also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2014 Mardi Gras Film Festival.

Other surf highlights at BBFF included the environmentally-focused Nordfor Sola (North of the Sun), which follows two Norwegian surfers as they try to live sustainably on an uninhabited edge of the artic circle, and another Aussie doco about the life-changing indigenous surf charity Burra Jurra.

Skippon-Volke says this year’s BBFF surf life up highlights how many facets there are to the global surf community, and how interesting it is to learn more about them all.

“We love being able to present such a diverse range of perspectives showing what surfing means to different people around the world – freedom, challenging one’s self to continually grow, a deep love and connection with the ocean,” she says.

While the festival has wrapped up for 2014, these films will go on to be screened at a wider range of film festivals and events throughout the country, giving more of us a chance to view surfing from many different angles.