Looking for a new and empowering feminist film to watch in the new year? Learn more about the history of one of Australia’s most beloved sport industries? Well, good news for you, director Christopher Nelius’ ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ will premier at Sydney’s Film Festival in 2021!
Also written by Julie-Anne De Ruvo, ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ is a much anticipated documentary, bringing to light the experiences of female surfers in the sport in the 1980s, as well as uncovering true accounts of sexism and gender discrimination. In addition to revealing the struggles of past female surfers in a largely male-dominated environment and modern audiences, the film also serves to remind viewers of the industry’s questionable social roots and how far gender equality has come (in not just the surfing industry, but also broader sports in general).
The film documents the historical journeys of popular and award-winning women in the surfing industry, including Jolene and Jorja Smith, Jodie Cooper, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha as well as many others. Complete with unreleased competition and interview footage from the 1980s, in addition to exclusive interviews with the surfers today, ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ combines the new with the old in an impressive piece of storytelling.
Executive Producer Michael Hilliard of FINCH, said “We were immediately hooked all those years ago when Chris first shared his idea to uncover this important, underappreciated story that featured an incredible cast of women that was most importantly a very fun, warts and all ride back to the 1980s, that is more relevant today than ever”.
The documentary recounts personal events experienced by female surfers on how they were continuously robbed of fair recognition during the 80s World Tour. Female Australian surfers were constantly battling against men who dismissed them as poor athletes simply due to their agenda, and mistreated as mere bikini models and side shows at surfing competitions. In an effort to show their community that they were more than just their bodies, women in the industry fought tooth and nail to gain recognition and a reliable audience.
Despite not having nearly enough sponsors nor high quality water gear (when compared to their male athlete counterparts), Pam Burridge and Jodie Cooper, amongst other legendary female surfers, managed to overcome the odds and prove the industry’s belittling nature wrong. ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ documents their difficult yet inspiring journey in an emotional and raw way, coupling action-packed competition footage with sit-down interviews to show to raise awareness for female mistreatment during the 1980s surfing era.
‘Girls Can’t Surf’ is a documentary with a message – to inspire young and aspiring female surfers of today. By revealing the truth behind the Australian surfing industry’s past, the documentary is set to wow its audience and change the way we view today’s surfing industry.
Girls Can’t Surf will be distributed by Madman Entertainment and will be released in cinemas across Australia later this year.
Being an Australian production, the project has also received principal production investment from Screen Australia. It is financed with the assistance of Screen NSW. Additional investment received from Co-Producer Whipped Sea.
Despite being an Australian production, there is much excitement globally for the coming release, especially in surfing circles.
With its first showing scheduled soon – between the 6th and 26th of January, at the prestigious Sydney’s Film Festival, be sure to book your tickets now before seats run out! For those who can’t wait and want to watch a snippet of the awe-inspiring documentary already, you can view the trailer here!