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Scene from Heavy Water.EXPAND
Scene from Heavy Water.
Photo by Brian Bielmann

Surf Film Fest Will Screen Death-Defying Stunts at Fort Lauderdale's Savor Cinema

If the 1991 film Point Break — about bank-robbing surfers — taught us anything, it’s that surf movies pop on the big screen. There’s something about the crashing waves and paradise setting that lend nicely to the cinematic experience. Who wouldn't want to pick up a surfboard after watching Johnny Utah catch his first tube?

You can expect similar feels when the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival presents Surf Film Fest, which will screen six surfing movies (of the non-bank robbing variety) at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale July 19 through July 25.

Director Justin Purser will make an appearance on July 20 to screen his documentary And Two If By Sea: The Hobgood Brothers. The film about surfing twin brothers CJ and Damien Hobgood is narrated by comedian and Tosh.O host Daniel Tosh.

Guests who buy tickets to the July 20 screening of And Two if By Sea or Heavy Water, which revolves around surfer Nathan Fletcher and his obsession with big waves, will be treated to a luau and performance by Miami band Gold Dust Lounge. If you like piña coladas, attend any screening on closing night and you’ll receive one for free.

The rest of the lineup features Vague à l’ me (Wave of the Soul), about the dangerous world of big wave surfing; Shaka, which follows Matthieu Crepel as he trades in snowboarding for surfing; White Rhino, a look back at arguably the biggest year in big wave surfing; and Big Wata, the story of the first and only surf club in Sierra Leone.

Surf Film Fest is the brainchild of Bonnie Leigh Adams, senior program director of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Adams learned to surf at New Smyrna Beach when she was just 13. She was inspired to host a surf film festival at the Unstad Arctic Surf resort in Lofoten, Norway in February after reading an article about the Lofoten Islands in Departures magazine. Now, she's bringing the concept to South Florida.

“Meeting people from around the world in Unstad and seeing their response to the surf films, I knew I wanted to show a selection of them back in Fort Lauderdale,” Adams says. Though the city's not necessarily known as a surfing hotspot, Adams says the sport is growing in popularity in Fort Lauderdale. The waves aren't ideal, but local surfers have learned to adapt to all conditions and are better for it.

When choosing the films she wanted to show at Surf Film Fest, she looked for certain qualities that she thought would resonate with the Fort Lauderdale audience.

“I wanted an eclectic mix of films that were adventurous and inspiring,” says Adams. “The filmmakers are wild and enjoying life in crazy circumstances, surfing in conditions that don't seem possible.”

As for why people dig surf movies, she has her own theory.

“Numerous scientific studies show us how beneficial nature is to our well being,” Adams says. “Humans are more happy and healthy when in nature.”

Surf Film Fest. Friday, July 19 to Thursday, July 25 at Savor Cinema, 503 SE 6th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-3456; fliff.com; Tickets cost $10 per movie.

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