For as long as humans have swum in oceans, we have surfed. With its roots in ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures, after James King of the Discovery first wrote about the practice of surfing, it became a clear sport woven into the fabric of Hawaiian society. It was only a matter of time before it washed over Europe and spread worldwide. Now, surfing has a home in the hearts of millions of Americans. Here in southeastern North Carolina, we know the beauty, freedom and thrill of the surf, and aren’t afraid to take a chance and wipe out.
This spirit of chance helped the creators of Surfalorus, a local surf film festival, find the courage to pursue their dreams. The second annual Surfalorus Film Festival will take place July 18th through the 20th at both Wrightsville and Carolina beaches and in downtown Wilmington. Spectators will get the chance to enjoy numerous independent surf films, and also check out local board artists, listen to great live music and eat good food.
Surfalorus grew out of the larger Wilmington film festival Cucalorus. Zach Hanner, who curated the event last year, explains. “After 10 years, we decided to make surf movies a standalone event,” he says. “A lot of the connection goes back to the fact that surf movies were some of the original independent films.”
Dan Brawley, Cucalorus festival director, says Surfalorus is a way to connect with the coastal communities and support surf filmmakers. “I think the event has the potential to grow into a really important showcase,” Brawley comments. “We’re going to grow it carefully and just kind of see what opportunities pop up.”
A great opportunity presented itself this year and as a result legendary surf photographer Jeff Divine will speak during the festival. Divine is known for his photo editing with Surfer magazine. Today, he works with The Surfer’s Journal.
“His more-than-four decades of surf photography is perhaps the most impressive body of work in the history of surfing,” Hanner details, “and his show will be as impressive and interesting for non-surfers as it is for the hard-core surfers among us.”
Along with Divine’s talk, the festival will host a shaping exhibition at the Board and Beach Expo, which will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tidal Creek. “[It] is going to be really cool,” Hanner assures, “as there will be a session at Wilmington Yoga Center, the shaper’s exhibition, a waterslide for the kids, several North Carolina microbrews available to sample, surfing and cooking workshops, and much more.”
Some of the vendors for the expo will be Lula Balou, Aqua Fedora, Epic Food Company, and Ian Balding Paddle and Surf. One of the main attractions, according to Hanner, will be a giant slip ‘n’ slide.
There also will be a raffle at the event and prizes include a few surfboards, a stand-up paddleboard, and other cool surf swag. Brawley says all proceeds will go toward charities like Stop Titan, Cape Fear River Watch, Indo Jax and Share the Stoke.
For all that Surfalorus is, perhaps a game-changing money-maker it isn’t—at least for now. The festival acts as a fund-raiser for the main film festival held every November, Cucalorus.
“Surfalorus is like surfing,” Brawley quips. “It doesn’t make you any money, but it makes you happy,” We raised no less than four dollars last year, [but] we really just want to make people feel good.”
The real focus remains on the artistry of film. The event will show over 20 films ranging from 2-minute shorts to 80-minute features. “One really beautiful feature that shouldn’t be missed is Friday night’s screening of ‘The Heart and the Sea’ by Nathan Oldfield,” Hanner advises.
Filmed in locations around the world, from Australia and New Zealand, to the south of France, the film highlights the joys of surfing life and how having that unique intimacy with the sea can add profound depth. It is a striking film and represents the ideals of the surf-film genre well. It is a genre Hanner would like to see expanded. He says the real beauty of Surfalorus comes in its ability to inspire.
“I think this festival makes people realize that you can make a film without spending an absolute fortune,” Hanner notes. “Surf movies are usually very expensive to make, but with the innovations of modern technology (GoPro cameras, etc.) they are more ubiquitous than ever.”
People of all ages are welcome to participate in all the festivities. Hanner says the turnout last year was modest, but they are hoping for bigger crowds this year. With a varied lineup, he assures there will be a little something for everyone.
Brawley, whose focus is always surfing or how much he’d rather be surfing, is confident the festival will not disappoint. He suggest just saying “Surfalorus” five times out loud in your office or the coffee shop or wherever. “Doesn’t that feel good?”
Now imagine how good actually being at the event will feel.
Thursday, July 18
Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar, Carolina Beach • Free
6:30 p.m. — Traveler’s Trio
9 p.m. — Fireworks on the beach!
9:30 p.m. —“No Directions” by Julian Martin and “Waverider” by Karl Lear
Friday, July 19
Red Dogs, Wrightsville Beach • $10/screening
10 a.m. — “H2IndO” by Brent Deal
noon — “Dust. Resin. Water.” by Troy Cryder
1:30 p.m. — “Shored Up” by Ben Kalina
3:30 p.m. — “Isolated” by Justin LePera
6 p.m. — Bikini Bottom Shorts Film Block
“Sine Qua Non” by Richard Yelland
“The Lazy Surfer” by Connor Buss
“Lunch Break” by Clare Plueckhahn
“Runman’s Grom’ by Ray Kleiman
“By the Way” by Hayley Gordon
“North” by Mikey Detemple
“Beyond the Drop” by Mark Anders
“Jeremy Johnston x Electric” by Ben Capron
“Excitation” by Rene Laudi
Jengo’s Playhouse, downtown • Free!
8 p.m. — Socialize
9 p.m. — Live music
10 p.m. — “PR 2013” by Keith Ketchum and “The Heart and the Sea” by Nathan Oldfield
Saturday, July 20
Tidal Creek Co-op • Free!
Board & Beach Expo, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.,
Jengo’s Playhouse, downtown • $5-$15
5 p.m. — “Manufacturing Stoke” by Pierce Michael ($10)
7 p.m. — Jeff Divine Workshop ($15)
9 p.m. — Baggie Shorts Film Block ($10)
“Remind Me To Forget” by Jeremy Asher Lynch
“Another Session” by Scooter Hayes
“River Run” by Dirk Brand
“Party Mix” by Hayley Gordon
“Boxing Day in Byron Bay” by Stephan Kleinlein
“Mason Test” by Logan Beam
“Welcome to ILM” by Do Good Real Estate
“Meanwhile” by James Throssel
11 p.m. — Surfalorus Night Cap ($5), Celluloid Surf Classics: Runmans 69
July 18th – 20th
Wrighstville Beach, Carolina Beach, downtown Wilmington
$40 passes or indv. priced screenings/events