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Here in California, the culture is rich. Not only does it continue to provide extensive contributions in the US, but several aspects of it often dictate the unavoidable trends we see around the globe. To many, California has become synonymous with stories of sun, surf and carefree vibes. Upon arriving to the west coast, I too possessed assumptions of what Cali was all about. I had visions of cruising the Pacific Coast Highway at dusk, the occasional celebrity sighting and the potential to trim some of the most the famous point breaks in the world. I quickly realized that, like many who live here already know, there is a much deeper heritage that is often neglected. Stories that stretch deep into the past and provide unprecedented insight into a land as mystical as it is fragile. Only recently did I learn of the story of the first Polynesians arriving to North America over a thousand years prior their “initial contact” as deck hands in the late 1700s. Although accepted by a loving community, their feelings of returning home were inescapable. With the support of the native community, these visitors were eventually able to return to their homeland but not before realizing the generosity of new relations to the East. I am very honored to be able to help share this story in Watu, a film created with the help of Jensen Young-Sik, Kaimanu Jackson, Matthew Lawless, Surfer Magazine, Ras K’dee, and Red Cameras, shattering all of my preconceived notions about this beautiful coastline and its amazing first settlers.

Being apart of a video competition that showcases the incredible talents of both amazing filmmakers and subjects was a very humbling experience in its own right. It also provided Jensen and I with an opportunity to take a risk and share something that is neither mainstream nor alternative. Rather, this story helped us to illustrate how important our coastline’s history is to its preservation. In making this film, we had the privilege of highlighting some of the most beautiful California coastal regions. While shooting this film up and down the coast, it was very apparent to see the effects of anthropogenic encroachment on the coastal environment. Throughout our journey, it became even more apparent how environmental stewardship organizations such as Saves the Waves are needed more than ever. It’s reassuring to see that it isn’t just about saving the waves, but ultimately it is also about preserving culture.

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We humbly invite our San Diego coastal community to join us Thursday November 5th at the Bird’s Surf Shed for the 2015 Save the Waves Film Festival as we screen our extended version of the author’s newest film,Watu.

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