NEW FILM Surf Girls Jamaica focuses on Imani Wilmot, an inspirational Jamaican surfer who uses the sport as a means of transforming the tough lives of the women around her, in Kingston and surrounding areas.
Surf Girls Jamaica is an original production from Real Stories. It has the uplifting quality, which is part of what characterises this fast-growing documentary channel. It was directed and produced by Joya Berrow and Lucy Jane for Little Dot Studios.
Established in 2010, Surf Girls Jamaica is Jamaica’s premiere all-girl surf club. Aimed at increasing the Jamaican female surfing population and promoting the sport of surfing, Surf Girls Jamaica provides a nurturing environment for female surfers of all ages to bond and share in a unique lifestyle and culture.
Imani’s father and family are the driving force in the history of surf culture on the island, and she was one of the first Jamaican women to set foot on a surfboard.
Where her family were supportive and encouraging, many women in the vicinity of where she lives have little opportunity, and often grow up in harsh circumstances.
Imani has harnessed the power of surfing to empower these women and help them improve their lives. She has a three-year-old daughter who is a great motivation in this mission.
Imani runs regular training camps, bringing women together to teach them the mindful art of riding waves. This develops self-motivation, a sense of community and a respect for the environment.
Surfing provides an escape from the streets, and an alternative path from a life surrounded by violence and crime, opening up windows of economic opportunity.
Imani’s impact is perhaps best captured by Melissa, who is learning how to be a surf coach.
Melissa’s life changed dramatically after meeting Imani and learning to surf. In the wake of being released from prison, with little hope of rebuilding her life and finding a proper job, she now owns her own successful business. Her story encapsulates the positive outcomes of Imani’s work.
The film, which won the Best British Film at the 2018 London Surf Film Festival, captures the landmark of the first all-female surf competition in Jamaica. Imani is a role model, working with international organisation Black Girls Surf, to inspire women of colour all over the world to see a place for themselves within the global surf industry.
Her goal is to inspire the next generation of female Afro-Caribbean surfers, and to continue as the driving force of this vital movement.
WAVES: Imani has transformed the lives of women in Kingston
Imani said of the initiative: “I’ve dedicated my life to empowering girls of colour to get into surfing and to enjoy surfing and to find the peace they need through the sport.
“The Surf Like A Girl camp is just a camp for girls. It doesn’t matter about age, it’s just a place for nurturing and comfortable for girls to learn to surf.
“I’m really concerned about how these girls are doing emotionally. People need to feel like they are supported and that their dreams are valid. Just knowing that the support is there, you are not afraid anymore.
“Many black women are afraid of getting into the water, as historically, black people were discouraged from entering the sea or even learning to swim, so it’s important for them to have a role model.
“You want to make sure that you being out there (in the sea) inspires a young girl of colour.”
Surf Girls Jamaica goes live on Thursday, January 10 at 6pm BST/1pm EST/10am PST on the Real Stories YouTube channel.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Surf girls filmmakers Joya Berrow and Lucy Jane are an award-winning, independent documentary unity, whose films have been featured on platforms such as National Geographic, Nowness and VICE.
The duo say: “We believe in the power of film as a strong impact medium. We use this power to bring light to underrepresented stories, inspiring new energy to global issues and breeding empathy.
“As filmmakers we have a responsibility to drive a creative movement which is representative and determined in the fight for equality. Nature is a therapy that should be accessible to all.”
Written by Rodney Hinds