Surfalorus, the cinematic union of all things gnarly and aquatic, is celebrating its ninth annual film festival this week. Orchestrated by the same team as downtown Wilmington’s native Cucalorus Festival, Surfalorus dedicates itself to showcasing everything from surf pros to local surfing legends.
While this year’s event has to ride the wave restrictions of COVID-19, Surfalorus will still commence September 24-27, in Manteo, North Carolina at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. The first night of film screenings will take place in-person but the following three nights will be virtually broadcasted via the links provided on the “Schedule” tab of the Surfalorus website.
Though safety restrictions may have put a halt to the in-person experience of Surfalorus, event director Zach Hanner sees the bright side of broadcasting virtually.
“As much of a bummer as this is,” explains Hanner, “we’re hoping that we’re able to reach people from all over the world that might not have been able to attend in years past.”
Each year Surfalorus works to make the event bigger and better than the year prior, with the advancement of film techniques and growing community of surf cinematographers, the content being put out is constantly improving. A filmmaker himself, Hanner draws on the specific tools that have led to this, such as drones and small waterproof cameras.
“[These tools] have also allowed us to see waves from the perspective of the Surfer’s riding them,” he notes, “making the process much more immersive.”
Online screenings will include commentary and interviews with directors between each film showing. Surfalorus has even promised special guests and appearances—but readers have to tune in to find out who they are!
As Surfalorus grows, the team is attempting to broaden audiences with its content-makers. “We’ve got movies from Canada, France, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands,” Hanner notes.
In years past, the film festival has prioritized inclusivity and worked to include projects from every type of contributor. This year holds the same truth, with films directed and starring women, films from all different parts of the world, and foreign language films.
“As we continue to build and expand our ohana (Hawaiian for ‘family’) the word continues to spread and we’re very grateful for that,” says Hanner. “This year’s festival features several films based on the stories of women surfers and a couple from female filmmakers as well. We also have two shorts submitted by the World Surf League featuring surfers of color as well.”
Hanner and company are particularly excited about some never before seen styles and concepts by new and veteran filmmakers. “Émerger” and “Sawubona” are both directed by Tyler Dunham, alongside his co-director Brendan Calden on the latter. Both films clock at 14 minutes.
“‘Sawubona’ tells the story of a young African-American man from South Central Los Angeles who discovered surfing and is now bringing kids from his neighborhood to the beach,” Hanner details with excitement. “‘Émerger’ is the story of a young Senegalese woman who is defying gender and racial barriers in her home just to practice the sport she loves.”
Being a North-Carolina-born film festival, this year Surfalorus will feature two films shot here in the Tar Heel state. The first being a film from a well-known Outer Banks filmmaker, Logan Marshall, titled “Abeyance.” The film features local OBX surf sessions as well as footage from the North Shore of Hawaii and runs for an action-packed 13 minutes. The second NC film is the only narrative film of the event, titled “Sea Salt Wind,” and is directed by Winston-Salem filmmaker Zack Fox with a running time of 28 minutes.
Opening night begins Thursday in Manteo and will be a drive-in experience in the parking lot of the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, beginning at 7 p.m. The virtual screenings will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday; and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased on the Surfalorus website. The venue is currently about halfway booked but according to Hanner, “You know surfers. They’re usually a little late.”
Thursday opening screening, 7 p.m., $20
NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island in Manteo, NC
Friday-Sunday, virtual screening times vary, Suggested donations