The EarthX Film Festival runs in Dallas Texas May 12-15 with some films being virtually available. The Finnish documentary “Big vs. Small” primarily focuses on Portuguese female surfer Joana Andrade and to a lesser degree Finnish free diving champion Johanna Norblad.
Andrade is the first Portuguese woman to surf on what some say are the biggest waves in the world at Nazaré Portugal. I have been to Nazaré some 15 years ago when tourism was starting to ramp up. It was a quaint fishing village.
Andrade faces monstrous waves that are dangerous and although there have been no deaths in Nazaré there have been many injuries. The surf photography captures the sheer power of these towering waves and some of Andrade’s runs are incredibly awesome and visually stunning.
Andrade was a natural athlete excelling in many sports but it was the forbidden fruit of surfing that aroused her passion. Forbidden as her mother wanted nothing to do with the dangerous sport. Despite Andrade’s proficiency in surfing her mother does not wish to know she is out on the waves.
Andrade is troubled by something and says that she lived in fear for many years about who she was. As the film progresses she reveals she was abused at 12 years of age and that it was the waves that helped her face the fear. Perhaps it is because as you ride these monsters you can only think of the ride and nothing else. The sea is her therapy. It goes beyond an obsession and one may surmise she takes a spiritual view of the sport and the water it is performed in.
You see the waves cresting and pounding down. If you are caught in the waves crashing down you can be pushed 15 metres below the service and panic can be a killer. As a trained lifeguard with the Royal Canadian Lifesaving Society I agree with the assessment of Norblad it is not so much as the water can drown you but the panic. Andrade goes to Finland for a brief training session with Norblad who teaches her to relax and be at peace with the water and trust yourself and manage panic even when you are swimming under ice in a frozen Finnish lake. Norblad admits some fear is essential to spur on top performance but too much can cause panic and death. An interesting bio of Andrade and Norblad but the star of the documentary are waves so wonderfully filmed by Tim Bonython.
For in theatre schedule see https:earthx.org/about/
For a trailer see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u59-7ZisIqk and if you watch this and not be awed I’ll eat my shirt.
Some of the films may be able to be seen virtually.
Directed by Minna Dufton
RKS Film 87/100.