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Watch These Nine Awesome Surf Documentaries

Surfing films are panning back to include the cultures and environments they document. Here are a few examples of the surf documentary sub-genre.

Surf movies have come a long way since the buff, blond, and bitchin’ VHS days. The maneuver-heavy aquatic pop-punk music video still exists, but increasingly, filmmakers are panning back to include the cultures of the exotic coastal zones they document. Add a conscious appreciation for filmmaking as a craft, plus a few social and environmental issues, and you’ve got a legitimate sub-genre: the surf documentary. Here are a few examples of the form.


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Sliding Liberia chronicles a trip to the nation's forgotten coastline in the wake of two devastating civil wars.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

Sure, the waters of Lake Erie have been known to catch fire from time to time, but people do actually surf in Cleveland.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em3mIrbOeFw

Follow adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins' (the founders of Patagonia and The North Face, respectively) epic 1968 journey to unspoiled Chilean Patagonia.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

A beautifully shot film about Irish big wave surfers Tom Lowe and Fergal Smith tackling some of the scariest surf on the planet, which happens to be right in their backyard.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1swPZzxv0tI

This noteworthy sidecar to Powers of Three introduces Mickey Smith, the photographer who literally puts his life on the line to document Lowe and Smith's exploits.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

The inspiring story of an Australian couple who run an orphanage in one of the most troubled areas of Mexico and use surfing to keep their kids on the straight and narrow.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prDsaWzGw_w

Follow the annual winter migration of photographers to the North Shore of Oahu as they scramble to capture the world’s best surfers on the waves of the “Seven Mile Miracle.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK3TOHLFL50

Filmmaker Russell Brownley tells the story of the Bangladesh Surf Club, a makeshift ocean-going family of sorts in this off-the-map surf destination.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

Named for a particularly potent strain of acid emanating from Orange County in the 1960's, Orange Sunshine, a documentary-in-the-works, promises to be a heady blend of vintage surf footage and tales of hedonism gone awry.

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