The New York Surf Film Festival is a two-day screening event filled with only the best surf movies. Of short and independent films, cult classics, and world premiers from established surf filmmakers. It’s all happening this week, on September 19 & 20. Heading up the festival is Morgan Rae Berk, who was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the surf exhibit in the Big Apple.
SURFING: How long have you been heading the festival?
Morgan Rae Berk: All of its 5 years.
S: What are the goals of the festival?
M: The main mission is to explore the diversity of surfing. We aim to program a mix of film views and stories from lots of different parts of the world. From both Indie as well as established surf filmmakers. It is meant to be an annual pilgrimage for the surf community to hang outside of the water for a change.
S: What’s the significance of having a surf film festival in New York City?
M: Many think, on first hearing about the NYSFF, that it’s a big fish out of water. We get the “You can surf in New York?” question constantly. We’re done proving ourselves to the surfing world so I’m not going to go into that. We know we get waves here; Hurricane Leslie should speak for itself this past week.
But more important for our event is what NYC has to offer for the serious filmmaker. New York is a global cultural center— a place where you don’t need to be a surfer to appreciate film. New York surfers tend to bring a friend or two along and they can appreciate the art of filmmaking and the beauty of wave riding. Our aim is in exposing the films to a much different audience. New York can give the filmmakers some wider eyes and real opportunities for the future.
S: What makes it unique compared to other surf film festivals?
M: NYC is unique. We are not a “beach city” yet we are close to the beach. We aren’t a sleepy town where you can surf and scrape by on nothing. You have to make an effort to surf, and you have to make an effort to afford to live here. Our community likes to sit back and enjoy the films for surf inspiration and as an escape from the daily grind of the city.
S: What’s your favorite part of the festival?
M: I always enjoy meeting the filmmakers in person after months of emailing back and forth. Their stoke is contagious.