Gaza Surf Club, Directors — Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine
Last film of the festival and one of the more interesting. It is a documentary about a group of Palestinians who have a Beach Boys urge to surf but who have no access to boards, teachers or a safe beach. The Israeli occupiers will not allow surf boards to be imported because they fear they will be used to smuggle in weapons from the sea to terrorists on shore. Boats for fishing are allowed because they can be tracked on radar but surf boards are invisible being so small and low to the water. The Surfers must therefore make their own but the club members do not have the knowledge or skills they need to make good quality boards. While on the surface this movie is about a small band of friends who wish to bring surfing to the Palestinian youth stuck on the Gaza Strip, it is really a window on a small oppressed population who endure the constant threat of war and yet try to hold on to their traditions and a reasonable life in an isolated, war torn part of the world. We gain insight into the place of women in that society and a traditional way of life that conflicts with the freedom of the surfing culture they dream of in far off Hawaii. One of the members of this small Surf Club escapes to Hawaii to learn new skills and how to build and repair surf boards. He however decides returning to Gaza is not for him and remains in the US at least at the time the movie was completed. This is not the best documentary ever made but it is nonetheless a unique view into a part of the world most of us never see. Worth the price of admission should you get the chance.