The annual Oceanside International Film Festival has become one of the most eagerly awaited events on the US’s indie-film festival circuit in recent years. Famous for its excellent surf conditions it is fitting that amongst the film categories including more familiar genres such as Sci-Fi, Environmental, Sentimental and Emotional Appeal, Serious Dramas, Comedy, Romantic Dramas and Animations there is also a Surf Film category. With the town’s residents consisting of a large number of enthusiastic surfers, drawn by the excellent surfing conditions as well as the town’s traditional surf culture the festival can rely on plenty of enthusiastic members of the public swelling audience numbers during the screening of surf films.
A couple of the films also feature local residents Cori Schumacher, Women’s World Longboard Champion a record three times and inspirational pro surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack but continues surfing undeterred. Hamilton plays herself in a film called Soul Surfer, based on her career before her accident, the shark attack and her survival and how she got back on her board and now works as a surfing instructor to disabled children.
However it is another film which has drawn the most interest and critical acclaim. ‘Out In The Line-up’ is a documentary film exploring the controversial issue of historical prejudice and discrimination towards gays within surf culture. It looks at the history of homophobia within surf culture and the taboo of homosexuality within pro surfing circles.
The story is told through the anecdotal descriptions of the film’s lead protagonists, with a supporting cast of a wide selection of other participants – in order to create a broad coverage of experiences and points of view. Supported by GaySurfers.net, which has more than 5,000 members around the world, the filmmakers believe they can improve the image of gay people by showing their passion for surfing and improve the future of our community by showing the diversity that exists in surfing. They are hoping to reach the emerging community prepared to step out of the shadows of secrecy to create a more open and accepting surfing culture.
The film has won numerous awards on the festival circuit this year and not only for the subject matter and script but also for its cinematography and direction. It has even been selected to take part in the documentary category of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.