What do you get when you combine the culture of surfing, the artistry of independent films, and the beauty of the Outer Banks?
The 8th Annual Surfalorus Film Festival, a three-day array of the year’s best surf films returning to the Outer Banks Sept. 19-21.
“Technically, Surfalorus is a spin-off of Cucalorus, a film festival that features all kinds of films,” says Tatum Clements, chair of the program for Dare County Arts Council. “Ours is specifically for works that feature surfing and the ocean.”
Cucalorus is an independent film festival that started in 1994 in Wilmington. It has formed a deep connection to the area, according to Dan Brawley, Executive Director. Of the 15 features to be screened at this year’s festival, several are from local filmmakers.
“Chances are the film you are going to see at Surfalorus was made by someone like your cousin or your nextdoor neighbor,” he says. “They are all interesting folks, and this year there are going to be seven or eight filmmakers in attendance, so it’s a great chance to talk to them.”
While films are the focus, Surfalorus is about more than watching movies. The three-day event also offers live music, art vendors, the always popular attraction fire performance, and, of course, surfing some of the best waves of the season.
“This event is for everyone,” Clements says. “A lot of families attend. It has appeal for all demographics.”
To that end, organizers are offering screenings at “non-theater” locations. Film screenings will be held at Dowdy Park in Nags Head (Thursday, Sept. 19), Dare County Arts Council in Manteo (Friday, Sept. 20) and the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills (Saturday, Sept. 21).
“On Thursday night at the park, we encourage people to pack a cooler, bring lawn chairs, and have a family picnic while watching films. On Saturday night, it is held at a microbrewery. Obviously, you have a very different audience there,” Clements says. “This event is definitely for everyone.”
All screenings are free, with the exception of the 2019 feature film “And Two If By Sea,” narrated by comedian Daniel Tosh. It tells the story of professional surfers and identical twins CJ & Damien Hobgood, who will appear on a Q&A panel along with director Justin Purser. This will be screened at the R/C Kill Devil Hills Movies 10 at 5 p.m.
“Our purpose in hosting it here through DCAC is to highlight our local filmmakers and the surfing culture on the Outer Banks,” she notes. “Our mission is to bring different forms of art to the area. We try to cover all media, but there is a lot of film culture on the Outer Banks.”
Surfalorus includes shorts, features, documentaries and other surf-inspired films by filmmakers of all backgrounds. Films must have been completed within the past two years to qualify. The complete lineup is at www.surfalorus.com.
“The schedule for Surfalorus is pretty broad,” Brawley points out. “Some are short films by emerging filmmakers, and only two minute long. There are also feature films by award-winning filmmakers. And some of the most recognizable surfers pop up in some of the films.”
Why come out?
“One of the great joys of film festivals is that you discover something you didn’t expect,” says Brawley. “People ask all the time, are these better or not as good as the films you see at the multiplex? The reality is that they are different, and I think much more interesting. The stories you see at Surfalorus or any film festival are going to be original, unique, and personal. For me, that is the great joy of film fests.”
Another bonus of Surfalorus is that, well, it’s held in the Outer Banks.
“Always some of the best waves of the year start rolling in in September,” Brawley says. “So you can surf all day and wear yourself out, then watch movies all night.”