Pure Stoke: Surf film festival comes to Half Moon Bay
by Heidi Trilling
Nothing to do in the Mavericks off-season?
Catch the waves at the First Annual Half Moon Bay Big Wave Film Festival, rolling in June 16 through June 20, at the Oceano Hotel & Spa in Princeton Harbor.
This event showcases independent feature films, joyful tributes, and a crop of zany short films, spanning nearly 50 years of passionate independent filmmaking.
An accompanying gallery exhibit of surf photos and surfboards will be displayed in the atrium of the Oceano Hotel and Spa’s Shops at Harbor Village for the duration of the film festival. Photographers include Frank Quirarte, Doug Acton, Don Montgomery, Ed Grant and Seth Migdail. It’s a serendipitous second chance to see an incarnation of the acclaimed Mavericks: Everest of the Seas exhibit, which had a spectacular run at the Coastal Arts League in February-March of this year.
It’s also a rare opportunity to see old-school surf films alongside the latest cutting-edge surf documentaries — and all on the big screen, where they belong.
Red carpet opening night, for example, features a screening of Greg “Da Bull” Noll and Bruce Brown’s classic Search for Surf, a rhapsodic, colorful homage to 1950s and 1960s longboarders.
Also in the lineup is Sally Lundburg and Elizabeth Pepin’s mesmerizing One Winter Story, an award-winning documentary highlighting Sarah Gerhardt, the first woman to surf Mavericks — Half Moon Bay’s world-famous big wave surfing Mecca.
Eric W. Nelson, Curt Myers and Chris Wilson of Powerlines Productions also get the spotlight for their new release Ride On, previewing the future of big wave riding with up-and-coming teen watermen. Also on the bill from Powerlines is the highly acclaimed Whipped!!!, with its international cast of paddle and tow-in surfers, and its moving tribute to Jay Moriarty, the legendary Mavericks charger whose spirit lives on in the hearts, minds and pure stoke of everyone who knew him or knew of him.
“This festival is a celebration of big waves and the men and women who ride them, of the aloha spirit that goes along with that, and the aloha spirit of being part of this Coastside community,” says Katherine Clark, co-director of the festival, and the quintessential matriarch of the Mavericks Surf Contest.
Clark, a Half Moon Bay native, along with co-director Grant Washburn — who is an annual invitee to the Mavericks Surf Contest and a documentary filmmaker himself — are passionate about giving back to the community that shows them so much encouragement and patronage during the intense, wintry Mavericks surf season.
“The surfers, hotel owners, restaurateurs, the people of Half Moon Bay … have been nothing but gracious and supportive of what Mavericks brings to this area,” says Clark. “So, we decided to do something positive and creative for them and their local businesses in the off-season. … It’s all about community.”
It’s all about charitable giving, too. All proceeds from the festival will benefit the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the Marine Mammal Center and the Half Moon Bay High School surf team.
It’s also about supporting independent films and filmmakers.
“There’s a tough challenge for independent films these days,” says Washburn. “Distribution is tied up with the big studio blockbusters. … So, film festivals are a great way to support independent filmmakers … and get their films out there in front of audiences who appreciate them.”
What about non-surfers? Do you have to ride big waves to appreciate these films?
Washburn says: “Once you break through that wall — the label “surf film” — you’ll see that they are not just for surfers or big wave riders. … These films have something to say to everyone … interested in independent filmmaking, the energy of the ocean, phenomenal athletes … and a good story.”
This inaugural year of the film festival promises to be an exciting, inspirational event. Local businesses like the Oceano Hotel & Spa, Sam’s Chowder House, and Old Princeton Landing are providing venues and refreshments for all festival-related parties and receptions.
Come out and join the celebration, and support independent filmmakers, films, the environment, wildlife, education, athletics and local businesses — all at the same time.
Visit the festival’s Web site, www.hmbbigwavefilmfest.com, for the complete and updated surf film festival schedule, ticket information and party particulars.
Note: The film festival information in this online article has been updated, and differs from that in the print version.