Last year, Hugh Johnson ended the first ever Bristol Surf Film Festival by saying “Next year, it’ll be twice the size!”… A plucky and ambitious goal for a brand new event, but considering how big, bright and busy it was at Bristol’s Paintworks studios on Saturday, it’s safe to say they reached it.
A quiver of motorbikes, artwork, wetsuits, fashion pieces, coffees, burritos and of course surfboards gathered together in Bristol’s creative hub for a celebration of the best surf films 2015 had to offer.
Weren’t there? Let us paint the picture for you:
You’re in a cobbled courtyard concentrating really hard on eating a crêpe without spilling it down your top
You’re in a cobbled courtyard concentrating really hard on eating a crêpe without spilling it down your top. Then you hear waves and turn into a large, open-plan room filled with people sporting surprisingly fewer beards and topknots than expected. There’s a Spoke and Stringer bar 10 steps ahead but your feet carry you left, following the sound of a different liquid addiction. Behind a black curtain is a pop-up cinema and on the screen, Bear Island has just started playing. Only after it’s finished an hour later, do you get a beer.
This documentary following the three Wegge Brothers as they explored Bear Island for waves was the first of 12 films to be played out on-screen, as part of a line-up interspersed with presentations from representatives of The Wave Project, Surfers Against Sewage and Eyeball HQ.
A showing of Andrew Cotton’s creation, Deeper: Behind the Lines delved further into his forays of surfing Nazaré’s monster waves for the first time off the coast of Portugal, and was followed by a Q&A with big wave surfer, Eric Rebiere.
“There’s no safe part of Nazaré” said Eric. “I call the inside hell. Normally when you go to the beach, the waves come from only one direction. But at Nazaré there’s a cliff and when a wave hits the cliff, it goes in every single direction. You don’t have a safe place and yet the life of your friend is in your hands. If you’re on a ski, you have to find your own way through.”
Simply watching a film like that starts the adrenaline pumping
Simply watching a film like that starts the adrenaline pumping and a mooch around the wares of some of surfing’s most established culture and performance brands brought a much welcomed opportunity to calm down. Finisterre took the opportunity to showcase its brand new men’s wetsuit; the result of a 10 month development and test phase in some of the Northern hemisphere’s coldest waters, whilst Deus was self-confidently leather-clad amongst its many marvellous machines, just simply being Deus.
It seemed the festival had everything it needed; films, food, music, big names, visitors, but thrown into this mix was a huge collaboration announcement from Eyeball HQ between itself and Surfline, both big players of surf forecasting.
As afternoon rolled into evening, the band flared up and the atmosphere took on an air of easy contentment. The best in surf film had been fully appreciated and had inspired a healthy respect from all assembled. “The festival’s totally met all my hopes and expectations,” said a very happy looking Hugh, and we agree. It didn’t just show films, but whole-heartedly celebrated surfing’s boundary pushers, artistic professionals and culture…all from within the city of Bristol.
And we hope it grows.
Event in association with REEF, Spoke and Stringer, TCSS, DEUS and Paintworks Bristol.