“The ocean nearly took my life,” says filmmaker Annika von Schütz. “Now it’s giving me life.”
Premiering tomorrow, July 9 at the International Surf Film Festival in Anglet, France, Femme Ocean profiles five women from Portugal, Morocco, and Sri Lanka, who fell in love with a sport long dominated by men. They are pioneers, athletes, adventurers, activists, and artists who share a unique bond with surf and the sea, pushing the limits of social convention.
“Our relationship with the sea is a relationship of vitality,” von Schütz continues. “We take risks on the water. We trust in nature. We confront our fear and we begin to trust ourselves. We build that courage and take it with us back to the land, to our communities and beyond. Globally, women are an increasing part of the surfing community and surfing can be seen as a tool for women empowerment. So I went on a trip from Portugal to Sri Lanka to meet women who are making their own way.”
The characters in the film bring with them a variety of perspectives. When Teresa Ayala started to surf 44 years ago on the Portuguese coast, there were only men in the water. Joana Andrade is fighting for her dream of surfing big waves at Praia do Norte beach in Nazaré. Also from Portugal, Lizzy is transforming her love for surfing into art and creating awareness for environmental topics. Maryam El Gardoum is a female surf pioneer in Morocco and Sithmi Nawodya, the daughter of a fishermen, fell in love with surfing in one of the first mixed surf schools in Sri Lanka.