Bells Beach Surf Film Festival

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Bells Beach Surf Film Festival coming to Torquay in January.

Digital camera technology has made making surf films very easy. $3000 can get a digital SLR with HD video capability, a waterproof HD sports camera, and a drone that you can attach it to. Laptops come with editing programs and Vimeo and Youtube provide the publishing platform. No wonder the internet is full of reasonable quality surf films.

If you’re older than 30 you can probably remember buying surf mags with free DVDs attached to the front cover. Those vids usually involved a bunch of pro surfers travelling to exotic locations and were financed by the likes of Billabong, Rip Curl or Quiksilver. Story lines? What story lines? There weren’t any, but the free DVDs made it very hard for traditional surf film makers to compete.

If surf films were food, the two minute Youtube vid is your Instant Noodles. The surf industry DVDs are your pub meal, and the surf film festival is your high end degustation menu, filled with high quality feature length films over multiple nights. Every now and then, you need to feast on something a little special.

7th Annual Bells Beach Surf Film Festival

The Bells Beach Film Festival, held in Torquay, Australia from January 4-7, 2017 is in it’s 7th year. It brings together films and film-makers from Argentina, Morocco, Hawaii, USA, South Africa, and Australia. Most of the films avoid the pros and take a human interest or adventure travel angle.

Surf film festivals also need to offer things the internet and DVDs can’t. The Bells Beach Surf Festival has teamed up with Blackman’s Brewery to keep guests hydrated, brought in live music before the first screening and have Q and A sessions with the film makers.

Perhaps the most important part of any surf film festival is the social scene. Old friends can catch up at the screenings, grab a couple of waves together during the day, and maybe get under a few amber jars while reminiscing about great waves ridden.

Here is the complete lineup for the festival held at the Australian Surfing Museum.

Wednesday 4th January–Opening Night Party

Live music with Oscar Lalor, pre film drinks from Blackman’s Brewery.


Featuring state-of-the-art cinematography DISTANCE BETWEEN DREAMS takes us right into the big wave action as Ian Walsh, John John Florence and others paddle into massive waves in Hawaii

(Australian Premiere)

PLUS – special presentation of PACIFICO with director Chris Gooley.

Thursday 5th January

Feature Film – PENINSULA MITRE (Argentina)

From the award winning Azulay Brothers who travel to the forgotten coastline of southern Argentina in search of unridden waves.

(Australian premiere/Winner Best Sound – London Surf Film Festival)

Friday 6th January

Feature Film – SECOND SOUFFLE (Morocco)

Filmed in Morocco Tom Bottom explores the lives of 6 surfers and how they build their lives around surfing.

(Australian Premiere)

Selim in Taghazout, Morocco. Photo by Moroccosurfphotograpy from Second Souffle. 

Saturday 7th January (Closing Night)

LETS BE FRANK (South Africa)

Director Peter Hamblin takes us on a visceral journey through the unseen and unknown world of big wave surf adventurer Frank James Solomon. An intercontinental clandestine investigation blurring the lines between myth, legend and reality – leading to the question… Just who is Frank?

(Australian Premiere/Winner Best Film – London Surf Film Festival)

LAS OLAS (Australia)

Surf filmmaker Joel Sharpe takes us on a journey to Central America and explores what it means to be a surfer through the telling of six stories from local surfers.

Wednesday 4th January – Saturday 7th January. Doors open at 7.30pm / Films start at 8.00pm. Drinks included in price of tickets plus door prizes!

Australian Surf Museum: 77 Beach Road Torquay Victoria

Bells Beach Surf Film Festival tickets on sale at Patagonia Torquay (cash only).

Feature image: Ian Walsh at Jaws, Hawaii by Zak Noyle. Featured in Distance Between Dreams. 

Accommodation near Torquay

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Iain Lygo

With a double degree in accounting and finance, Iain Lygo has successfully avoided an office job all his life. He has just launched Big Adventure Club. This adventure travel club has 6-8 epic tours a year including motor bike trekking in the Himalayas, surfing in Indonesia, back country skiing in BC, Mountain biking from Colorado to Utah, and road biking in France.


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