Surf Girls Jamaica: The Healing Art of Riding Waves
“I always heard my dad say, surfing is one of the most positive sports because it takes your eyes from all of the negativity and the corruption that is in society and it turns turns you to the horizon.” —Imani Wilmot
Eight miles east of downtown Kingston lies Bull Bay, the heart of Jamaica’s surf community and home to second-generation surfer Imani Wilmot. Imani embarked on her surfing career at the age of ten, rising to the top of local competitions and traveling internationally with the Jamaican surf team. After a decade of competing, the need for broader representation in surfing became evident. At home, competitors in the women’s division were so few that contests repeatedly yielded the same results. Sponsorships were scant for women who did not fit the maddeningly narrow image that the surf industry idealizes. Recognizing the power of surfing as a tool for social change, Imani turned her focus to creating opportunities and improving access for women surfers on the island.
“There is nothing about mainstream media that is representative of surf culture here.” —Imani Wilmot
The ocean is a force that heals, strengthens, and unites. Through surfing, one confronts personal boundaries, overcomes challenges, builds relationships, and connects to mother nature in a profoundly transformative way. Imani seeks to guide women and girls through the barriers erected by a long history of prejudice, allowing them to take part in the divine power of surfing and sisterhood. Surf Girls Jamaica, the upcoming documentary by Joya Berrow and Lucy Jane of The Right to Roam Films, turns the lens on Imani and the inspired community she’s built. “Nature is a therapy that should be accessible to all, without exception,” they write. Over an original soundtrack that compliments the ocean’s ethereal beauty, the film’s subjects glide on waves and provide an intimate portrait of life as a Jamaican water woman.
“I’ve dedicated my life to empowering girls of colour to get into surfing, and to find the peace that they need though the sport.” —Imani Wilmot
Surf Girls Jamaica will be released on January 10th at 5pm GMT, and is poised to be among the most important short films of 2019 as the movement for equity in surfing swells. Joya and Lucy recognize the potential of film to shape culture, and the responsibility for creators that comes with it. Their mission is to use the medium of film to breathe energy into social change. “There is a powerful historical relationship between our disconnection from the natural world and systems of human oppression. We aim to bring healing and justice to wounded places as we unearth stories that serve to educate and make us reflect on the way we are choosing to live our lives.”
Winner of the Best British Film award at the 2018 London Film Festival, Surf Girls Jamaica will be available for viewing on the Real Stories YouTube channel. The film will also show at festivals worldwide accompanied by panel discussions around the topic of diversifying the surf industry. The team is applying for impact distribution funding to support the tour, as well as crowdfunding.
Thus far, three tour destinations are scheduled for March 2019 in South West England to engage the thriving English surfing community; potential stops include Newquay, Falmouth and Exeter. The events are organized with She Extreme Alliance and Ruth Farrar, a network of female filmmakers working in extreme sports. Stay tuned for updates on the Surf Girls Jamaica journey. This is the surf film you’ve been waiting for, and it’s only the beginning.