After so many big moments on the East Coast this month, we just can’t drag ourselves away. Kicking off on Thursday, September 15th, the New York Surf Film Festival is three days of film screenings, Q&As, surf art galleries, raffles, and parties (the first of which we’ll be hosting Wednesday night — stay tuned for the details). So if you’re like us, and looking for any reason to stay in the city or get to the city, we’ve got it. We caught up with Morgan Rae Berk, the girl in charge of this year’s festival, to find out what’s on tap. —Jen Sirchuk
SURFING: What’s going to be different about this year’s festival?
MORGAN RAE BERK: We are having the festival at a new venue called the Cinema Village. The sound, screen, and size of the theater is all-around better. The last couple of years we’ve sold out [of tickets] a lot. This year we wanted to be able to sell more seats so people couldn’t harass us about getting in anymore. We also rented out a bar/restaurant next-door called The Stand. The idea is for people to come early, stay late, and hang out.
What films are you most looking forward to?
The big-ticket film that I get harassed about every day is Come Hell or High Water, Keith Malloy’s world premiere. I’ve also got a few big-wave surfers coming in to do Q-and-A’s. We’ve never had a big-wave film in the program before, but this year we have two. It’ll be cool for them to let people really pick their brains. The other movie that I love is Lost and Found. Doug Walker found an old box of [film] negatives at a swap meet in California, then went on this journey to figure out the stories behind the photos. I think it’s a really great way to document history and to really meet characters and the people behind the camera.
And then Kai [Neville]’s Lost Atlas is epic obviously and will be cool to see on the big screen again. We showed Kai’s Modern Collective two years ago. That was interesting because he literally delivered the film to us overnight from Australia only a couple of hours before the premiere. That was a bit unnerving, so this year we have the movie pre-premiere. There’s never a dull moment with surf filmmakers in general.
How do you pick the films?
I’ve got a panel of people that watch the films and take into account the storyline. We do a good mix of films that have storylines that document something that someone who doesn’t know everything about the surfing world could sit down and watch and understand and enjoy, as well as the high-action films. People want to see surfers rip and they want to see it to good music. That stuff’s always a good time. Geographically we try to mix it up a bit, make it a bit of an eclectic group of films. The most important thing about the film festival is it needs to have that independent thing going for it to really keep the integrity. Otherwise it’s going to be all industry movies. We really do try to keep it real and get the indie guys some exposure.
What is the film festival all about?
For me it is all about the filmmakers. Surf filmmaking over the last couple of decades has never premiered in New York because no one really had the money to do it. It’s really about combining the movies together and making a festival out of it. We are really able to give these filmmakers their big shining light, which is huge for them.
Why New York?
It opens the eyes of a lot New Yorkers who maybe don’t surf but like the films and the aesthetic. They will come out and support the filmmakers. It gets the filmmakers’ work to a much broader audience, while giving the community a chance to meet up. We’re not like California where there’s a ton of parties and the surf industry going on all the time. You get to see the people you’re in the lineup with out and about.
To find out how to get tickets and to see a list of films check out and trailers, visit http://newyorksurffilmfestival.com/.
Films in the 2011 New York Surf Film Festival:
Features: Year Zero, Splinters, Come Hell or Highwater, La Ruta Del Mojado, Manufacturing Stoke, First Love, Bono, Lost Atlas, Boardheads, Thirty Thousand, Sofia, Lost & Found, Runman 69, and Last Paradise.
Not So Short Shorts: Capture: A Waves documentary, Now, High 5, Sion, Down With the Ship, and Chasing the Swell.
Shorts: 2011 D DAY Directed by Pandora Decoster Blue Sway by Jack McCoyI am Andy Irons IceBoard Directed by Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat and Conn BertishKai ‘e’e’Makani Directed by Sophie LongLa Ruta Norte Directed by Kepa AceroLeave a Message by Nike 6.0Longest Left Chicama -Peru Directed by Jesus FlorianLunch Break by Clare Plueckhahn &Fran DerhamProject Kaisei by Pete CrowleySmiling Spot Directed by JM. BonnerSurfers Journal POV: Runman Filmed, edited, produced by Tyler Manson; Music by Alex KnostSurfers Journal POV Another Day in the Life of Wayne Lynch Filmed, edited, produced by Cyrus SuttonSurfers Way Directed by Lindsey Megrue, THOM: A Portrait of Modern Youth Directed by Riley Blakeway