BIG WATA premieres at the 33rd edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Big Wata (The Ocean), a documentary about West African surfers, will premiere at the 33rd edition of the Santa Barbara Film Festival on the 9th of February. The film is the feature length debut of director Gugi van der Velden and is set on the beautiful shores of Sierra Leone and Liberia.
A small fishing community is the backdrop of the first and only surf club in Sierra Leone. Local youngsters run the club with charm, but struggle for more autonomy at the same time. They escape reality through their shared love for the ocean.
They dream of traveling the world and surfing bigger waves. An unexpected invitation from abroad shakes the balance in the community working one surfer in particular into a frenzy.
Shot during the Ebola outbreak, the story represents the diversity and resilience of the West African communities. Big Wata is a positive story from Africa. It shows both daily life and how having a dream can bring light in an otherwise dark time.
Big Wata is the first feature length documentary by director Gugi van der Velden and producer Floris Loeff. After his period in Sierra Leone Floris convinced Gugi to make a film about the local surf club. At that time they had never made a film before.
Gugi and Floris are close friends who have known each other since primary school. They have since started working in the film industry in Amsterdam.