Surf Report: Honolulu Surf Film Festival Brings Good Waves to the Big Screen

Catch this swell event at the Honolulu Museum of Art, now through July 30.

Editors Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawai‘i writer on arts, culture and food.

  Let's Be Frank

A scene from Let’s Be Frank.
Photos: Courtesy of Honolulu Museum of Art


Back in 2008, Honolulu Museum of Art film curator Gina Caruso thought it was kind of crazy that there wasn’t a surf film festival in the birthplace of the sport. So, with the help of Eric and Jackie Walden, who were then owners of the surf-and-art shop Chinatown Board Room, she did something about it. 


This year the festival turns 10, and it has become an anticipated event for surfers of all types and ages. Caruso had moved to Honolulu from the Mainland to take the curator job and has since returned to Baltimore. So, the festival is now organized by Doris Duke Theatre administrative assistant Sarah Fang—with help from Eric Walden, who is now the museum’s operations and facilities manager.


The films themselves have also changed—the surf genre has evolved, going beyond the prototypical The Endless Summer surfari (which screens on July 27). You can see it in selections like the British-South African production Let’s Be Frank—a sort of melding of This is Spinal Tap; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and View from a Blue Moon. Yes, the surf auteur has arrived.


A scene from Lumière.


Also women are increasingly taking the spotlight—and the festival screens a Surf Like a Girl showcase of short films, which includes Stephanie Gilmore: The Tempest and Lumière, about Hawai‘i photographer Amber Mozo who is poignantly following in the footsteps of her late father, the beloved Jon Mozo.

  Closing night talk

Last year’s closing-night talk included, from left, Darrick Doerner, Kimo Hollinger and Kohl Christensen.


It is now a tradition for the festival, which has gone from a two-week to monthlong affair, to end with a classic film from the Bud Browne Film Archives—thanks to Anna Trent Moore—and panel discussion of Hawai‘i surf legends. It is an incredible treat to see these old warriors sit on stage and reminisce—especially when Kimo Hollinger puts his dry wit into fourth gear. It’s no surprise closing night always sells out (so don’t wait to buy your tickets). This year you’ll get to see Bud Browne’s Going Surfin’, then listen to Reno Abellira, Clyde Aikau, Ben Aipa, Joey Cabell, Jeannie Chesser, Peter Cole, Kimo (yay, he’s back!), Ira Opper, Randy Rarick and Jock Sutherland.


See scenes from last year’s Honolulu Surf Film Festival closing night talk in a video by Kyle Metcalf. 



Lesa GriffithLesa Griffith is director of communications at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Born in Honolulu, one of her early seminal art experiences was at the Honolulu Museum of Art, when on a field trip her high school art history teacher pointed out that the ermine cape in Whistler’s Portrait of Lady Meux was not just a cape—it was visual signage leading viewers’ eyes through the painting.