Surfalorus Film Festival showing epic feature film, shorts new and old

Published 11:54 am Monday, September 18, 2023

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The annual Surfalorus Film Festival returns to the Outer Banks for a three-day celebration, showcasing some of the best surfing films of the year.

Running during the evenings from Monday, September 18 to Wednesday, September 20, the festival is concurrent with the Eastern Surfing Championships. Films and events are held at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.

“No matter who you are, if you like ocean culture, if you’re interested in surfing, we are very open. We want to share these films with everyone and anyone,” said Surfalorus Film Festival Director Zach Hanner.

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The kickoff party is at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, featuring live music, free appetizers, and free beer and wine before the 7 p.m. feature film Savage Waters.

The documentary follows a British husband-wife team to Portugal as they seek out a mythical, massive, never-ridden wave described in a 19th century treasure hunter’s journal.

“It is more than just a surf film,” said Hanner. “It’s a film about adventure, exploration, risk taking – all surfers have a little bit of crazy in them.”

Viewers will enjoy the amazing cinematography and great story-telling, said Hanner. View the trailer here:

Surfalorus is the surf-themed arm of the Cucalorus, a Wilmington, NC independent film festival founded in 1994. Hanner – an actor, musician, and director – was part of the original group of people to launch Cucalorus.

When he moved to New York, he started collecting a lot of surf movies. “My dad is a history teacher,” he explained. “I’m always interested in the history of whatever I’m into.”

Hanner said that surfing films were one of the earliest versions of independent films. When Endless Summer came out in 1966, “Even if you were freezing cold in Kansas you could still watch it, even if you didn’t know about surfing.”

The Cucalorus team decided to do a smaller festival showing surf films, and in 2020 they moved the festival to the Outer Banks.

“One of the reasons we asked to do this is to bring a different type of arts entertainment to the Outer Banks. We wanted to bring something unique to that community,” Hanner said.

Tuesday evening features a 5 p.m. showing of six classic shorts from surf pioneer George Greenough. “He was the first person to capture footage from inside the barrel of a wave,” Hanner said. Many of the shorts have never been seen on the east coast.

One better known Greenough film “Echoes,” will be screened, giving viewers an opportunity to see his innovative footage on a big screen.

At 6 p.m. NC Oyster Trail will give a presentation about shellfish aquaculture and advances in aquaculture (“because people should know where the food they eat comes from”) with free oysters for all, followed by the viewing of Piping Plover Shorts, 111 films including RAW – The Sound of Teahupo’o, Water III, WOMP, Malia, Tropical Daydreams, Ministry of Surf, Tony’s Rad Rip, Juvenile Rippers 3, Shaper, Familia Garcia, and To Be Frank.

Wednesday starts with the screenings of Goddesses, Yama, Uncle Bully’s Surf Skool, and The Hoffmans – A Multi-Generational Surf Story, followed by the closing night party and awards ceremony.

Filmgoers return for one last collection of shorts, showing Bloody Knuckles and Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture.

A post-screening bonfire will be at 8:30 p.m. on the beach.

Tickets are available at the door, or at The Locals Pass (and no, you don’t have to be a “local” to buy it) is available for $15, and gets you into all screenings and social hour each night with free drinks and food.

“We really would love to have our local crowd come out and hang,” said Hanner. “We feel like Nags Head and Jennette’s have become our little home base there and we just want to share all this with the people of the Outer Banks.”