For the past four years, Bodhi Surf + Yoga has had the unique honor and privilege of having an in-house, in-water surf photographer and videographer — Hannah Walsh. Anyone who has met Hannah knows that she is a light and an absolute delight to be around — always finding ways to spark interesting conversations, fun moments, and laughter. Yet she is very humble (and thus talks less) about her passion and talent as a storyteller and artist in the niche of in-water (oceans, lakes, rivers, surfing, bodysurfing, windsurfing, swimming, etc.). Hannah has been instrumental for Bodhi Surf + Yoga to tell this part of our story to the world — passion for nature, the ocean, and all things wave-sliding — via film and photo. In this blog, Hannah shares some of her own inspiration as a filmmaker, as well as problems (and solutions) she sees to make this industry more equitable and accurately represented.
Without further ado, we present to you our Ultimate Water, Wave-Sliding, and Surf Film Festival Line-up. Note that most of the short surf films are on the free video streaming services (Youtube or Vimeo). We include links to the trailers of the feature-length surf films, but they may need to be found (or rented) on some of the other streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney, or HBO).
First-of-its-kind Water, Wave-Sliding, and Surf Film Festival Line-up
Being a water baby, the ocean has always been my second home, though if I had it my way, it would be my first. It’s my source of inspiration, and as an aspiring filmmaker and water videographer, I’ve always wanted to spread this inspiration as far and wide as possible. This past season at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, I started running the weekly “Bodhi Surf Film Festival” whereby we would set up a projector on the yoga platform and watch films with our bodysurf, surf, and yoga camp guests that fuel their excitement for the rest of the week out in the surf.
These festivals have sparked this newfound passion of mine for not only making films, but curating line-ups that all viewers can connect to — and not just surfers. I believe that the best stories are the ones that have the ability to make viewers feel something beyond the subject matter of the film. Where they walk away feeling some type of spark, whether that be inspiration, passion, and or the desire to make positive change in their own lives.
Observations + reflections on the lack of diversity in surf movies
After searching through hundreds of surf films across all platforms, I have found myself disappointed with the same themes and images played over and over again. My first point of observation being that surf films often do not reflect diversity in the lineups. Being a surfer myself, I know that all types of people are out there catching waves no matter their age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.
The sport of surfing has been notoriously dominated by masculinity, and has been slow to welcome those who sit outside of those parameters. It was just in 2018 that the World Surf League announced equal pay for men and women, a milestone accomplishment that was won through the hard work and dedication of the professional women surfers. There is still so much more work to be done in the sport to reach gender equality but even more so to cultivate a culture of acceptance in all realms. I personally believe the surfing industry’s largest space for growth is in diversification, and I hope that sharing this list can help in that mission.
Being someone who is fueled by optimism, I want to do my part in diversifying the sport of surfing by shining light onto stories that I believe accurately reflect the totality of what surfing is. This lineup of films reflects the different walks of life who choose to spend time in and around water to experience the Blue Mind paradigm. They are stories driven from passion, soul, creativity, and love for the ocean. The biggest goal being that if you’re a surfer or not, that you leave this surf film festival fueled to live your life more passionately. So put on some comfy clothes, grab some popcorn, sit back, and let these films stoke you!
SHORT WATER, WAVE-SLIDING, AND SURF FILMS
Films that illustrate surfing as a tool
This category of films shares the stories of those who are using the sport of surfing to spark positive change in the world. These wave-sliders have taken their love for the ocean and have committed to spreading it beyond themselves — into purposeful missions. These stories range from reducing the environmental impacts of surfing to fighting for equal opportunity in the water. We are living in a world where we have the opportunity to take our passions and turn them into ambitious and meaningful careers, which is exactly what these stories reveal.
- “She Change” trailer: A feature documentary film about the fight for gender equality in big wave surfing by made by filmmaker and director, Sachi Cunningham.
- “Leah Dawson Might Save Women’s Surfing”: A film from the Creators series by leading surf publication called The Inertia on Leah Dawson — surfer, storyteller, filmmaker, and inspiration to women surfers around the world.
- “Alternativa”: A film from the Inertia that follows professional surfers, Leah Dawson, Kassia Meador, and Lola Mignot through their travels in El Salvador, and inspire the next generation of women surfers.
- “Street Surfers”: This film shares the story of professional big wave surfer, Frank Solomon, who travels to Johannesburg to meet Mokete Mokete and Thabo Mouti, the “street surfers” who make a living collecting plastic and taking care of their local environment.
- “The Cuba Unknown”: A film from the World Surf League that explores the lives of surfers in Cuba and their quest to not only find waves, but share them with the rest of the country and to grow the sport of surfing.
- “Pear Shaped”: In this comedic short by Lauren Hill, the realities of being a woman in the world of surfing are revealed, breaking the false image the media reflects and leaving viewers doubled over with laughter.
- “The Way it Should Be feat. Dave Rastovich”: Made by Stone & Wood, professional free surfer and environmentalist, Dave Rastovich, shares his thoughts on local community and collective environmental responsibility as “we are all visitors” on this earth.
- “Sameseas”: This film tells the story when nonprofit, the Changing Tides Foundation, traveled to the Dominical Republic to meet the young women of the Mariposa Foundation, and connected through waves, stories, and their shared love for Mother Ocean.
- “Voices for the Ocean”: In this inspiring film from Patagonia, surfers Belinda Baggs, Liz Clark, and Moona Whyte share how their love of surfing sparked their individual journeys to becoming lifelong environmental activists.
- “The Fisherman’s Son”: In another film from Patagonia, professional big wave surfer Ramón Navarro shares his vision and journey of protecting the environment and local culture along the Chilean coast where his love for surfing first started.
- “Dean Goes Surfing”: This heartwarming film shares the story of a teenager named Dean who finds both freedom and community through the “Surfing with Smiles” organization, whose mission is to share surfing with those with special needs.
Personal narratives about surfing or water
These personal narratives share the stories of those who have dedicated their entire lives to be in and around the water. They have allowed the waves to shape where they choose to live, their careers, their travels, and ultimately help them find their chosen families. This category reflects that fact that the ocean never stops teaching lessons and those who choose to take them head on are blessed with an endless ride of growth and gratitude.
- “Imogen”: In Morgan Maassen’s most recent film, the story of Imogen, a 23-year-old surfer from Western Australia, is told as she surfs waves from her home all the way to Iceland, Indonesia, and France.
- “Yeti Presents: The Malloy Brothers”: This Yeti short film/ad discusses how the Malloy brothers’ careers as professional surfers sparked their passion for exploration through filmmaking, wave-sliding, and traveling the world.
- “Well Preserved”: This heartwarming, comedic short film made by the Green Renaissance, tells the story of a group of all-women swimmers in the Faroe Islands who start every single day of the year with a dip in the ocean no matter how frigid the Atlantic water may get.
- “Bruce Gold – The Last of the Great Surfing Hippies”: This short directed by Anders Melchior shines light on a legend named Bruce Gold who has lived fifty years in Jefferey’s Bay, Australia without ever working a job, but rather has dedicated his entire life to riding waves.
- “Surfing Possibility: India’s First Surfer Girl”: Partnering with “Brown Girls Surf”, “Storytellers for Good” sets out to India to share the stories of South East Asia’s first surfer girls in this inspiring short film.
- “Seea Generation”: This short film made The Seea profiles women surfers of all generations and places who all use the ocean playground as a source of inspiration and freedom in their lives.
- “A Small Surfer Makes Big Waves”: Quincy Simmons, AKA“The Flying Squirrel” is known as the best six year old surfer in the world. This film made by ABC Open, shares Quincy’s dreams, aspirations, and why she is so passionate about surfing.
- “PAL” | Adrianne Chandra Huff| Palnation”: In this series called Palnation, Hannah Walsh (that’s me!) shines light onto her inner circle of friends creating narrative short films. This film tells the story of business owner, surfer, and environmentalist (and Bodhi Surf + Yoga co-founder), Adrianne Chandra Huff.
- “Immerse Yourself | Spencer Kruse | Palnation”: In the second video in the Palnation series, Hannah Walsh tells the story of surfer, environmentalist, and bodysurfer (as well as staff member at Bodhi Surf + Yoga) Spencer Kruse Dunlap.
Behind the lens of a surf videographer
This category aims to share the stories of those often unseen in the world of surfing: the people behind the cameras! As a surf videographer myself, I understand the hard work and determination that must go into capturing photos and videos in the water. The job requires a combination of skill sets: being a strong swimmer, understanding of surfing, having ocean awareness + fast reflexes + a creative eye, all while working a camera in an ever changing playing field. In each film, these artists have taken their love for the ocean and found a way to tangibly share that with the world.
- “Still Moments in Tofino – Bryanna Bradley”: Bryanna Bradley is a water photographer who got her start in the frigid waters of Tofino, British Columbia. This film, directed by RJ Bruni, shares Bryanna’s story and what surf photography means to her.
- “See Through the Lens of the World’s Best Underwater Surf Photographer | Ben Thouard in ‘Surface’”: In this ROAM original short film, takes a look at award-winning photographer, Ben Thouard, who was the first to shoot landscape photographs of land from the inside of a wave! It’s a beautiful perspective you won’t want to miss!
- “Facing the World’s Deadliest Wave | Forgiving Pipeline”: Professional surf photographer Amber Mozo had filmed waves around the world, but never faced her home break, Pipeline. It’s where her dad, also a professional surf photographer, lost his life. This Redbull short film shares Amber’s experience swimming out and filming Pipeline for the first time.
- “A Winter on the North Shore with Surf Photographer Zak Noyle”: In this short film by Redbull, a winter’s worth of waves on the North Shore of Oahu is documented through the lens of surf photographer, Zak Noyle.
Films about surfboard shapers
This category shines light onto another art within the sport of surfing: surfboard shaping. These artists have dedicated their lives to making boards of all shapes and sizes, and for any type of conditions. Due to the advancements in board shaping over the years, surfers are now able to ride bigger and more powerful waves. The real stories reflected in these films however, reveal the soul and passion that goes into crafting each and every surfboard.
- “Dusts of Gold”: In another mesmerizing film by Morgan Maassen, we watch surfboard shaper Ryan Lovelace create his works of art that then travel around the world, providing surfers with endless waves and happiness.
- “Pōhaku”: Oʻahu native Tom Pōhaku Stone, shares his journey in reviving the art of hand-shaping surfboards from wood, an ancient Hawaiian tradition, in this short film directed by Bradley Tangonan.
- “The man & the sea”: In this portrait of Derek Hynd directed by Andrew Kaineder, the art of surfing without fins is beautifully told through a visual look at wave riding in Jeffery’s Bay, Australia.
Films that highlight commitment to the surf
This is my favorite category. These stories reflect the commitment and dedication of those who want to spend their lives riding waves — no matter the conditions. It is here that you will hear the stores of those who surf lakes, rivers, or freezing water; those who live out of their cars, bodysurfing, and ultimately finding endless solitude in uncrowded lineups. These stories prove that no matter where you live, wave-sliding is possible!
- “Come Hell or High Water”: This documentary, directed by Keith Malloy, is the first bodysurfing film to exist — and one of my all-time favorites. It shines light on this original form of wave sliding and the progression of the sport.
- “StrongWater – Surfing in Montana”: The last thought to come to mind about Missoula, Montana, mind would be surfing. This film made by Jordan Holland tells the story of how this small community became Montana’s first surf community — riding the rivers.
- “Compassing”: Professional surfer, environmentalist, and surfer, Cyrus Sutton created this captivating short film. It documents his journey making a home for himself in his old van and traveling the West coast of the Americas in search of waves.
- “Tofino is a Place”: Tofino, British Columbia is home to one of the only surf breaks in the world that has more women than men in the line-up. It’s also the site of the all-women’s surf contest called, “Queen of the Peak”. This short film directed by Ryan Struck tells the story of how the contest began and why it’s important in growing the sport of surfing.
- “Surfer Dan”: This fan favorite short film made by Camp4 Collective, portrays a surfer named Dan who finds solitude and happiness riding the frigid waves of Lake Superior in the harsh winter months.
- “Arctic Freediving Helped Save Her Leg”: This incredible short film made by National Geographic tells the story of Johanna Nordblad After nearly losing her leg in a biking accident, she found healing through freediving in frozen, arctic waters.
Artistic and cinematic surf films
This category has the power to put views in a trance-like state and give them an unforgettable experience, as well as a newfound perspective of the water. Cameras that shoot one-thousand frames per second are used in some of these stories, revealing shots that are unseen to the human eye in real time. Sit back and prepare yourself for views you have likely never seen before, cultivating a greater love and appreciation for all things water.
- “Audi – Electric Wave”: In this new film directed by Daniel Askill, some of the world’s best professional surfers find their “flow” state in the world’s most advanced artificial wave — Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.
- “Water II”: This powerful short film made by Morgan Maassen reveals new perspectives of the water and will leave viewers feeling like they are submerged in the beautiful ocean, and more inspired than ever.
- “Dancing on Water”: In this Bodhi Surf + Yoga original short made by Hannah Walsh, co-founder Travis Bays gets his daily dose of solitude as he rides his longboard and takes in the beauty of Costa Rica’s coastline. This film documents a magical afternoon session.
- “Space”: This intense and jaw-dropping short film made by Parallel Sea features professional surfer, John John Florence’s high performance and mesmerizing style of riding ways.
- “Dancing in the Dark”: This beautiful short film directed by Spencer Frost explores a group of surfers who choose to escape the Australian surf crowds by paddling out at night. This poetic piece will undoubtedly leave you breathless.
- “Grande”: In the winter of 2016-17, Nazaré, Portugal saw constant large swells which brought some of the world’s largest and most dangerous waves.This short film shines light onto the power of those waves while also revealing their natural beauty like no other.
- “Fissures”: This beautiful film by Morgan Maasssen will leave viewers in a trance as there is no meaning to be found in the sequences of visuals. Sit back and enjoy the unique displays of water and light from all around the world.
- “One Breath Around the World”: This incredible film made by Guillaume Néry follows his journey of “one breath” around the world as he freedives and explores the undiscovered oceans and the wildlife that live there. This film makes you feel like you’re in another universe.
- “Nature’s Hold”: This short film made by Hannah Walsh shares a poetic narrative about her relationship with the ocean and all the love it provides to those who choose frolic and spend time immersed in it.
- “THE WILD”: This Lieber Films short explores the life of Noah Beschen and his pursuit of following his love for surfing and the call to nature he can’t ignore.
FULL-LENGTH WATER, WAVE-SLIDING, AND SURF FILMS
Feature length documentaries on surfing and wave-sliding
This category is a recommendation list of surf documentaries (feature length films) that are available for purchase across multiple platforms. These films are filled with passion, humor, adventure, and endless love for wave-sliding. You will find yourself laughing one second and tearing up the next! All links below bring you to the official trailers of each film with information on where to stream. Get your snacks ready and prepare yourself for the ultimate surfing inspiration with these films.
- “Andy Irons: Kissed by God”: This compelling film, directed by Steve and Todd Jones, explores the life of the late professional surfer, Andy Irons. As a former WSL World Champion, this story dives into his life and struggles with bipolar disorder and the addiction that ultimately took his life.
- “Paige | Breaking Barriers in Big Wave Surfing”: This film made by Endlessflow Films tells the story of big wave professional surfer, Paige Alms, and her dedication and commitment to not only ride giant waves but also to break down barriers and cultivate gender equality in the sport.
- “Out in the Line-up”: This award-winning documentary directed by Ian Thomson follows two surfers who seek to understand why homosexuality is taboo in the world of surfing. This film follows their journey traveling the world and shining light on the gay surf community that exists, while provoking thought into the exclusion they face in the line-ups.
- “White Wash”: This documentary made by Ted Woods, tells the complicated story of the lack of people of color in the waves, and explores some of the reasons why that is.
- “Momentum Generation”: This heartwarming film directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, tells the story of a group of friends who grew up surfing together on the North Shore of Oahu in the 90s, following their journey of rising to stardom in the surfing world. This film will leave you laughing one moment and in tears the next!
- “180 Degrees South”: This adventure documentary directed by Chris Malloy follows surfer and environmentalist, Jeff Johnson on a long journey to Patagonia, Chile where he meets with Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard, and their effort to summit the Corcovado Volcano together.
- “Girl on Wave feat. Sarah Hauser”: Sarah Hauser is an inspiring professional windsurfer who has dedicated her life to the sport. This film, made by Echohouse Films, shares her story of the lengths you can go when you decide to follow your dreams.
- “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable”: This Lieber Films production tells the story of one of the most accomplished athletes of this century — the amazing Bethany Hamilton. After losing her arm to a shark at the age of 13, she has continued to surf waves around the world, all while raising a family and living a life that is true to her values.
- “Fishpeople | Lives Transformed By the Sea”: Directed by Keith Malloy, this film reflects on the endless positive benefits of living a life in and around the water. These portraits of water-women and men will leave viewers inspired to spend more time in the ocean and connect with the natural world.
Classic surf documentaries
These films are novelties that every surfer must see at least once. In some cases, once may be enough, but it is important to understand the history and evolution of surfing to fully grasp its full meaning today. These are some of the first documentaries to have been made about surfing and have paved the way for the rest of this line-up to exist today. Check out the trailers below.
- “The Endless Summer”: In this 1965 classic film, Bruce Brown follows two surfers around the world in search of perfect waves and good people. This film is a novelty and one of the first surf adventure films to be made.
- “Step into Liquid”: In this classic surf documentary directed by Dana Brown, people from different walks of life are portrayed, all connected through their desire to surf waves, not just for hobby but also for lifestyle.
- “Riding Giants”: This classic big wave surfing film directed by Stacy Peralta explores the evolution of the sport, from its early Hawaiin roots to the industry and lifestyle it has turned into around the world today.
Hollywood surf films
If you are feeling like you want to watch an action-packed, feature-length movie about surf then this category is for you. These films are known around the world and were made on multi-million dollar budgets. After watching the rest of the line-up it is interesting to watch these Hollywood-style films as they are nothing if not reflections of the stereotypes in the surfing world. Nevertheless, they provide a fun night of laughter and action! Here are the trailers to get you excited.
- “Chasing Mavericks”: This Curtis Hanson film tells the story of Jay Moriarty and his quest to ride one of the biggest waves on Earth — Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California. The story follows his life as a 15-year old when he discovers his mentor, Frosty Hesson, who then trains him to surf the wave and survive it.
- “Point Break”: The original, early 1990s action-packed surf film was directed by Katheryn Bigelow and is the story of a federal agent and his quest to infiltrate a suspected gang of bank robbers who are a group of surfers from Southern California.
- “Blue Crush”: This movie, directed by John Stockwell, was the first Hollywood movie of surfer girls. It tells the story of a young woman on the North Shore of Ohahu preparing for the Pipe Masters, one of the biggest surf competitions in Hawaii, and navigating (you guessed it) love!
- “The North Shore”: A young wave-pool surfer from Arizona travels to Hawaiito to fulfill his dream of riding waves on the North Shore. Upon arrival, he realizes how unprepared he is, and finds a mentor who trains him to become the ultimate waterman in this 1987 comedy directed by W.W. Phelps.
- “Soul Surfer”: This inspiring film directed by Sean McNamara shares the story of the young and naturally talented surfer Bethany Hamilton. Expected to be one of the best in the world, she was met with a challenge when she lost her arm to a tiger shark at an early age. This film follows her journey to keeping her surfing dreams alive and rising above adversity.
Kids’ surf movies
The final category of films is made for kids who are looking for action packed and engaging surf movies. These two films are classic, and can be enjoyed by not just kids but also adults. Be prepared to laugh but also feel inspired from these animated characters! Here are the trailers to get you started.
- “Moana”: This animated Disney film tells the story of an adventurous young girl from ancient polynesia who is the daughter of a chief. This film follows her action packed sailing journey in effort to save her people and fulfill the quest of her ancient ancestors.
- “Surf’s Up”: This comedic animated Sony Productions film tells the story of a young penguin named Cody Maverick who lives for surfing. This film follows his move from Antarctica to an island where he seeks to win the local surf competition in effort to be respected in his new home.
I hope that you enjoyed this lineup of short films from the Bodhi Surf + Yoga Water, Wave-Sliding, and Surf Film Festival Line-up! Feel free to email us if you think of any other films you think should be included in this list, at hannah[at]bodhisurfyoga[dot]com!
Written by Hannah Walsh