Canary Islands Surf Film Festival 2015

Move-over Cannes, London and New York, because between the 8th and 11th October 2015 Tenerife will welcome to its shores the “Canary Islands Surf Film Festival” -a truly magnificent sporting event which will include surf-riders from all over the world. Passion for the environment, the influence of the trade winds, waves born on the ocean floor and rich biodiversity, have made the Canary Islands an ideal location for the world’s top photography, film and advertising directors in the adventurous and adrenaline-flowing world of surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing and body-boarding. Turismo de Canarias will be announcing the winner of this magnanimous event during the ‘Canarias Surf Film Festival 2016’.

Apart from the award, there will also be €50,000 in prize-money for the best audiovisual portrait of what the Canary Islands have to offer. Taking part in this 4-day extravaganza will be many names synonymous with the surfing world, including ‘Surfrider’ a non-profit environmental organisation that has been protecting the oceans of this world for 25 years. However, the main stay of the event will be the films themselves, many of which are exceedingly exciting and adventurous -and some that are truly heart-rendering.

The story of Mike Coots is one that captured my heart, I must confess -even-though many people who have heard about it may not agree with his altruistic actions. Having lost his leg to a tiger shark attack, Mike has not-only strived to protect the lives of  all sharks -including the one that took his all-important limb, but he has also dedicated his life in helping less-fortunate people in countries around the world, where amputees live a life of poverty and rejection -and prosthetic limbs are only for the selected few. Indeed, in the surfing fraternity, Mike Coots is known as a ‘surfer’, a ‘survivor’, an ‘advocate’ -and an ‘Icon’ -which, after reading his heart-warming story, I have to agree with entirely.

‘Fading West’s’ documentary-cum-surf-film-cum-travel-log, which follows the Grammy-winning band, Switchfoot on their 2012 World Tour, as they travelled the planet in search of musical inspiration and perfect waves, also intrigued me somewhat -primarily because the band visited several incredible places, (along with sampling the delights of legendary surf-breaks) such as the paradise island of Bali, the magnificent country of New Zealand -and the incredible continents of Africa and Australia, where inspirations for song writers, poets and travel-writers alike are bountiful.

Also, the film ‘Fortune Wild’ was another movie that captured my imagination, as it tells the story of three surfers who travel to some of the remotest islands in the Haida Gwaii Archipelago, off the coast of British Columbia in Canada, in search of their own Utopian paradise. Cutting themselves off completely from the modern world, our adventurous trio become attuned to a totally self-sufficient existence, spending their days surfing into rarely surfed waves -and camping and foraging for food along the magnificent unspoiled beaches of these paradise islands.

As the days disappear into oblivion, their journey into the unknown becomes a lot more than a picaresque adventure, after they are granted permission by the Haida elders to visit a hidden area of the Haida homeland -a place where people have lived in partnership with nature for thousands of years. ‘Fortune Wild’ is a film that deals with the peace and promise of wild places, whilst at the same time teaching people how to see the natural world in a more profound and reverent way. One third documentary, one third a surfing and adventure film -and one third a storybook wander into the unknown, Fortune Wild is a beautiful -and slightly     eccentric, journey into the heart of what matters most.

Having always had a passion for amazing true stories, I cannot wait to see ‘Serendipity, the documentary’ -a film about Anthony Hussein Hinde, a 20-year old Australian surfer who in December 1973, became shipwrecked, along with fellow surfer, Mark Scanlon, on the (then unknown) North Male atoll in the Maldives, after the ketch that they were sailing in ran-aground on rocks. Hinde spent several months repairing the boat, and during this time he discovered how excellent the surfing potential was in the Northern Maldives -and so he decided to stay in the country. In order to do this Tony had to become a Maldivian citizen -and while he was at it, he also converted to Islam.

For 15 years Tony managed to keep the secret of this surfers paradise to a select few, but then in the mid 1980’s, in response to plans by a foreign investor to build resorts in the area, he decided to open ‘Atoll Adventures’, a dedicated surfing camp in Tari Village -and the rest, as they say, is history. On 27th May 2008 Tony suffered a heart-attack whilst surfing the waves at Pasta Point, in the Mali Atoll and was found floating face-down in the water. Sadly CPR failed to resuscitate him and he died on that day, but his legacy, as the ‘Father of surfing’ in the Maldives will live on for ever.

‘Kwepunha Liberia’, a film by Sam Bleakley (an ex-pro surfer and professional travel-writer) tells the story of how surfing has helped a small community in war-torn Liberia rebuild itself, 10 years after the horrific war crimes which were perpetrated between 1989 and 2004 literally tore the country apart -and so, as a fellow travel-writer, this one will definitely be on my list.

Last, but by no-means least, is a film called ‘The Fisherman’s Son’, which tells the true story of ‘Ramon Navarro’, a native of Chile, who was born and raised in a small fishing community in Punta de Lobos -and who’s ultimate passion was riding some of the biggest waves on the planet. From humble beginnings Ramon’s bravery and skill in the ocean not only brought him fame in his home country, but it also made him a star in the surfing world. Today Ramon’s death-defying achievements in gigantic waves is only a part of a much bigger picture, as he strives relentlessly to preserve the culture and environment

of his beloved Chilean coast. ‘The Fisherman’s son’ focuses on Ramon’s rise to the top -and how he is using his legend status to speak-out for the protection of his lifelong home.

Several other films, including ‘Duct-tape Surfing’ -the story of how a lapse in concentration crushed a lady’s dream of surfing -before a role of duct tape gave her a second chance of enjoying the sport she loved so much, will also be on offer, along with ‘Manufacturing Stoke’ -a journey across the Californian coast, visiting surfing legends and newcomers alike -to name but a few. Many companies will be represented at this 4-day bash in El Medano, which promises to be one of the best events of the year on this wonderful sub-tropical island -and so come-on all you budding surfers and ardent windsurfers -drag-out your surf-boards, body-boards and kite-boards, and join us for four days of pure, unadulterated fun -and an abundance of adrenaline-rushes from dawn to dusk -its gonna be wild!