Hosted by Reef, the annual event is held across two weekends and brings some of surfing’s most creative personalities to the UK.
The event features a number of exceptional film premieres and for some, represents the only occasion they can be viewed on the big screen.
The 2016 event will see three world premieres, three European premieres and seven UK premieres. These will be accompanied by talks and Q&A’s with the likes of XXL winning charger Paige Alms, big wave rider Chris Bertish and adventure traveller Kepa Acero.
The festival gives fans the opportunity to spend time with a wide range of musicians, filmmakers and writers embedded in surf culture. One particular highlight is the appearance Arthur Bourbon, whose beautiful film Inna di Caribbean has its UK premiere on Sept. 22.
Filmmaker and free surfer Bourbon, who was born in Guadeloupe, has lived in France since he was 15 but returned to the Caribbean to revisit the surf communities of his home island, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia, before finishing off in Barbados.
‘I’ve been thinking about the project for a long time because it’s obviously a special place for me,’ Bourbon told The Culture Trip. ‘It’s not a famous place for surfing and I don’t think there are any films about surfing in the Caribbean so I was really happy to show my vision of the surf scene there. Being able to give the microphone to some of the local surfers, to give them the chance to talk about the island and the surfing in the Caribbean was something I’m incredibly happy about.’
Bourbon, however, is clear to point out his film is not simply a promotional piece for his homeland. The film showcases parts of surf culture unknown even to Bourbon himself before taking on the task. ‘In Martinique people still surf on trimmed down logs because of their history with slavery,’ he said. ‘It’s how they used to escape the island and their masters, and in a little town in the north of the island they continue to do it this way because it’s important to their heritage.
‘That’s something I didn’t know before. Everybody thinks that the first surfing was in Hawaii or other places in the world. We found some proof that there was surfing a long time ago in the Caribbean. This local guy we met showed us that there were slaves (surfing) just as early as Hawaii – it was so cool to be shown stuff like that.’
Bourbon’s film visually explains a tiny, but distinct, surf community in the most beautiful way. These are locations that may only have ’10-20 surfers on the entire island’ but where those same surfers are still ‘collecting small pieces of surf equipment at any opportunity’ to have something to give to young children who wish to take to the waves.
Each island comes with its own heritage. Dependent on the stage of Bourbon’s journey that you may find him on, the island’s locals could be speaking English, French, Creole or Spanish. Different invaders and settlers from Europe and Africa have meant each island has its own unique culture, identity and idiosyncrasies, and yet within that, a common thread remains.
‘Every island is different but they still have the same roots and the same origin,’ Bourbon said. ‘There’s a genuine spirit that you can find everywhere in the Caribbean but the language is what proves that there are the same origins. One island may speak French, and one may speak English, but they both speak Creole – they carry part of that same story and it’s one that’s very special.’
That same special story will be brought to London later this month. Bourbon will be at the festival for the premiere of his splendid film, offering an elegant slice of surfing sunshine in London’s autumn night.
The London Surf / Film Festival x Reef 2016 is hosted across the capital and across two weekends, at two iconic venues:
Thursday 22nd – Friday 23 September at The Genesis Cinema,
Friday 30th September – Saturday 1 October at the Regent Street Cinema