The New York Women’s Surf Film Festival is a celebration not only of community, art, and women pushing boundaries, but of fall in New York, hurricane swell, and the eclectic nature of global surf culture.

Waking up on a September morning at the Rockaway Hotel was just a bike ride away from 8-10 ft. Dark golden slabs, the crisp air biting as the soft end-of-summer sun warmed the air. The ground thumped as sets rolled through, and the boardwalk was filled with spectators gasping at the ocean’s sudden change in mood. These waters lay dormant most of the summer, with little to no swell showing up between June and August. Then, as soon as the water warms and the tropics start to stir, hurricane swells light up the coast with pumping surf. This weekend, Ida came to town and it was a swell that was gone just as quick as she came, but she left an impression on us all.

The festival kicked off with a photography workshop and an exhibition by photographer and director Amanda Prifti, whose film, “Solace” on quarantine in Sri Lanka, was also featured in the fest. Workshops drew a crowd featuring topics that unite us all, like the “Overcoming Fear” Panel Discussion with Will Skuden and a conversation with author and “Swell Season” podcast host Diane Cardwell on surfing her way into a new life. The night of the big event at the Rockaway Surf Club, the venue was packed. A single fin group art show raised money for A Walk on Water surf therapy organization, as films played under the stars featuring women from all walks of life. “We Are Like Waves,” “Ebb & Flow,” “Surf Girls: Kaikaina Rooted in Culture,” and Billabong’s “Know the Feeling: Morocco” were a few titles that lead up to the main event - “Girls Can’t Surf.”

The final day was my chance to really take all that this festival was about - courage and creativity - and host a panel discussion on how that translates into our daily lives. It was an honor to share my personal journey of surf stewardship with discovering Sea + Soil, and introduce members from local organizations that formed a water safety coalition to protect and educate their community. Laru Beya, Swim Strong, and Surfrider Foundations have been working tirelessly to create legislation to mandate water safety in public schools to help reduce disproportionate drowning rates and create access to the ocean in a time when our relationship with water is changing every day. It was incredible to dive deeper with these groups to find out how each brought a different skill set that leveraged surfing as a path to a solution. 

The spirit of the fest seemed to be of the true alchemy of diversity, and what a better place than New York to celebrate the joy of unexpected strangers coming together. With a shared love of surfing, our oceans, and creating together, it set the perfect stage for this kind of unexpected magic. 

For more info and to come to next year’s event, visit