"Where'd all these girls come from?" mused the women in wetsuits, the surfers who dared to ride the waves and set the tone for the graceful dance with the ocean in the turf that many male surfers regard as their own. The Women and the Waves is an independent documentary that follows a group of women trailblazers from different generations. Filmmakers Heather Hudson and Peck Euwer made the point on stage in a Q and A after the first screening that although women do feature in many surf films, they're often on the periphery. Other than, say, Gidget or Blue Crush, they're seldom the focal point of this type of flick. The Women and the Waves seeks to change how women on boards are viewed and to show the something of the history-and present-of women's entre into this sport.
The film succeeds, flowing with as much grace as the surfers themselves. Hudson and Euwer stood before a theater full of cheers for pulling off a glorious homage to the women in the sport. The filmmaking duo is the first to admit that the film is not necessarily a comprehensive history of women surfers. But as we peer into the lives and check out the surfboards and graceful technique of a number of notable women, we see something of the evolution of a way to surf that is gorgeous, glorious and uniquely feminine. After all, as one of the lines in the film goes, surfing is not football.
There's plenty of Rincon represented on screen, and Santa Barbara surfers are represented, although the profiles are not limited to Central Coast surfers. World champion, role model and first woman to surf Waimea, Linda Benson shows that she can still carve it up, along with the rest of the women of varying ages, backgrounds, trophy collections, and levels of surf addiction. In addition to Benson, Women follows:Ashley Lloyd, Heather Tiddens, Kim Mearig, Robin Janiszeufski-Hesson "Zeuf", Debbie Trauntvein, Jennifer Useldinger, Aubrey Falk, Rachel Harris, and Shakira Westdorp.
Each frame in the documentary is beautifully captured. Hudson and Euwer combine vintage photos and footage; candid, poignant, and revealing interviews; and impressive surf sequences shot from the beach with high definition scenes shot from literally on the surfers' boards. Euwer rigged up miniature high-def cameras inside housings and attached them to the boards. The result? A meditation in motion that can't help but inspire even the most reluctant surfer. I found myself leaving the theater actually contemplating surfing.