Oceanside CA– Held August 3 to 10, 2014, Oceanside International Film Festival is an annual event put out since 2009 in San Diego County’s Northernmost city famous for its very consistent surfing conditions, Oceanside. The festival (which finished accepting films June 16) will publicly screen 70 unique and independent films, a good mixture from the locals and around the world, including United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Australia, Turkey, Spain, India, Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.S. Viewers can choose from a variety of specially-themed screening blocks to suit their tastes such as Sci-Fi, Environmental, Sentimental and Emotional Appeal, Serious Dramas, Comedy, Romantic Dramas, Animations, etc. Especially of interest to many locals this year is OIFF-2014’s screening block of Surfing Films including ‘3mates7seas’ from Sydney, Australia; ‘Waves N Craves’ from Oceanside”; ‘Flux: Redefining Women’s Surfing’ from Orange, CA; and ‘Out In The Line-Up’. A couple of those films feature Cori Schumacher, three-time Women’s World Longboard Champion, and pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack and who Soul Surfer film was based on. Particularly standing out from those surfing films is ‘Out In The Line-Up’, a Full Length Documentary from Bronte, Australia.
The film investigates controversial issues such as the history of homophobia in surfing, the gap between gay culture and surf culture, the issues facing gay women in surfing, the taboo of homosexuality in professional surfing as well as psychological and mental health issues that affect gay people within surfing communities. The story unfolds through the anecdotal descriptions of the film’s lead protagonists, with added excerpts from a wide variety of participants – in order to create a broad coverage of experiences and points of view. Supported by GaySurfers.net, which has more than 5000 members around the world, the filmmakers of this film believe they can improve the image of gay people by showing their passion for surfing and improve the future of our community by showing the diversity that exists in surfing. They are hoping to reach the emerging community prepared to step out of the shadows of secrecy to create a more open and accepting surfing culture.
In 1992, David Wakefield won his first surfing contest and went on to become state champion. However he was keeping a secret that stopped him from wanting to enter competitions. He was gay, and gay was not acceptable in surf culture. David’s greatest fear was that he would be found out and rejected by his family, friends and the surfing community that had become his life. David kept his sexuality hidden for the next 20 years.
Sadly, David’s fears were not unfounded. Even today, many gay surfers are in a similar predicament. Some have witnessed ‘poofter bashing’ in the surfing community, some have been bullied in the line-up and others have been rejected by family and friends. In the most tragic cases, some have even taken their own lives as a result of non-acceptance. In professional surfing, several gay athletes have been told that their sexuality is incompatible with the expectations of their sponsors. As a result, many have lived in secrecy and some have walked away from competition.
In 2011, a fateful Google search leads David to GaySurfers.net, the world’s first online community for gay surfers. For the first time David connects with people who he can speak to about the secret he has carried for 20 years. He reaches out to the site’s founder, Thomas Castets, and they become good friends. They work through how hard it is to come out as a gay person and even harder as a gay surfer. Not only does David decide to come out, he does so in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. In a poetic turn of events, the typically shy and private David is thrust into the public spotlight, a television interview with the parade’s flamboyant celebrity host makes David a media focus at the event and lands him on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald online.
The response to David’s very public ‘outing’ is mixed. Many are surprised but supportive, however some closest to David are confused and hurt. Despite the fallout, David is determined to find out why homosexuality is so hidden in surfing. He quits his job, packs up his house and sets off on a global journey with Thomas to meet other gay surfers, hear their stories and bring understanding to this issue.
“Out In The Line-Up” follows David and Thomas on a journey that takes them from the east coast of Australia to Hawaii, California, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. Along the road they meet a variety of characters. They hear from openly gay former professionals including three-time world champion Cori Schumacher, big wave rider Keala Kennelly and once top-five US professional surfer Robbins Thompson. They speak to everyday gay surfers and the younger generation about being gay in the line-up. They also seek out the expert opinions of former US Congressman Barney Frank and his surfer husband Jim Ready, openly gay Australian surf icon Nell Schofield, controversial surf journalist Fred Pawle, author-academic Clifton Evers and many others.
“Out In The Line-Up” uncovers a culture that has strayed from its foundation of freedom of spirit, open-mindedness and connection to nature. David and Thomas learn about the dominance of male rituals in surf culture and the way this has marginalized minorities. They also hear about the pivotal role sponsors and media play in maintaining out-dated stereotypes. On ground level they hear stories of fear, isolation and self-doubt, but they are also inspired by tales of hope, self-empowerment and transformation.
Beyond simply exposing this taboo issue, this film seeks to affect change. It aims to confront the surf industry and the wider surfing community, creating awareness, provoking discussion and challenging stereotypes. Through this, “Out In The Line-Up” seeks to pave the way for a younger generation of surfers, creating a culture in which they can connect with each other and be themselves.
“Out In The Line-Up” has won 4 awards at film festivals around the world: Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival (Audience Award for Best Documentary), Byron Bay International Film Festival (Best Surf Film Award), Newport Beach Film Festival (Best Action Sports Film Award), and San Diego Surf Film Festival (Audience Award For Best Film).
Oceanside International Film Festival is conceived and once again underwritten by Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation / OCAF, which is OIFF’s parent entity, the same 501c3 non-profit organization that has conducted Oceanside Days of Arts for 22 years. This year will be the 25th year OCAF has brought quality artistic, visual, performance, and musical arts to Oceanside and the surrounding communities. Its Film Festival showcases narrative features, documentaries, shorts, animation, and student works from filmmakers who have not yet signed distribution agreements and look for recognition among wider audiences. All proceeds go towards scholarships and for the purpose of putting out more public events by OCAF.
Film industry guests and audience members alike will appreciate the ocean-infused atmosphere surrounding the city, where the festival is held. Located in the most Northern part of San Diego county and within a short drive from Los Angeles and Orange counties, Oceanside offers miles of sandy beaches ideal for sun-worshiping and surfing. Between screenings, movie aficionados will be able to visit the famous bungalow house featured in “Top Gun” (starring Tom Cruise), the longest wooden pier on the western United States coastline, or California Surf Museum to see the shark-bitten board and swim suit worn on the fateful day by pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack and who Soul Surfer film was based on – played by AnnaSophia Robb. All those places are downtown Oceanside within walking distance from OIFF-2014. Oceanside is also home to a harbor bustling with restaurants and entertainment, and to the historic Mission San Luis
Rey, the largest building in California when completed in 1700’s and the most prosperous of the state’s 21 missions, thus earning the name “King of the Missions”.
This year festival’s organizational committee and Jury consists of almost 20 film passion-driven individuals, who have been meeting monthly since September 2013 (!) to make sure this year’s August event is another success. Among the submissions are works by independent filmmakers from all over the world. Nearly every continent is represented this year. The committee is excited to have at their disposal two wonderful venues downtown Oceanside for the purpose of publicly screening films. Firstly, it is historic Star Theatre. It was opened in 1956 with capacity for 986 people. Now, with 440 stadium-style seats and no obstructed views, it boasts a “California Historic Landmark” marquee decorated by multi-colored lights, and a beautiful round ticket booth as a centerpiece at the entrance that brings a sweet movie-going nostalgia to many North County’s old timers. Then the audience will get a chance to become familiar with the historic facility of Sunshine Brooks Theatre, built in 1936 originally with 659 seats, now with capacity of 200. The Brooks is the oldest standing theater in Oceanside.
For educational workshops, festival schedule, or complete list of award categories, please go to http://www.ocaf.info or http://www.facebook.com/likeOIFF Tickets now on sale.