Documentary released on Jamaican female surfers

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Surf Girls Jamaica, a film about Jamaican Imani Wilmot and her team on female surfers, premièred yesterday on the Real Stories YouTube channel — the documentary arm of the popular online platform.

The project by documentary filmmakers Joya Berrow and Lucy Jane for Little Dot Studios examines Wilmot's passion for the sport as a means of transforming the lives of the women around her. Aimed at increasing the Jamaican female surfing population and promoting the sport of surfing.

“I've been doing my all-girl Learn-to-Surf camp since 2010. I really just wanted to increase the population of female surfers in Jamaica because whenever we had surfing competitions it was the same female faces that would turn up. It was a project that I was doing on my own and with the support of family and friends,” Wilmott told the Jamaica Observer.

However that all changed in May of last year when she was approached by Berrow and Jane who were so taken by her story that they wanted to tell it to a much wider audience via the medium of a documentary.

At first Wilmot was apprehensive. She noted that this is her life and work and was wary of how others would tell her story.

“I'm not doing this for the glory,” declared Wilmot who is the daughter of reggae artiste and surfer Billy Mystic of Mystic Revealers.

“I see the impact that surfing has had on the lives of women around me and I needed to be sure that any story being told was true and authentic. I was guarded as it related to how people would come in and tell my story. As a result it was a long process before I agreed to go ahead,” she stated.

With Wilmot on board, the filmmakers began shopping the idea, pitching the project to investors for funding. It was not long before the YouTube channel showed interest.

“ In July Real Stories came on board and we began filming in August. Editing was done in September, October and November, just in time to be submitted to the London Surf Film Festival where it was submitted as a work in progress. It won best British Film — since the filmmakers are British. It is also being submitted at SHAFF (Sheffield Adventure Film Festival) which is in the UK in March.”

She is pleased with the early accolades. However, Wilmot is not content as she said there is so much more to be told.

“One of the things that has been included in the documentary is the staging of Jamaica's first all-girl surf competition. This was an amazing experience in itself and all the females who turned up for this had these great stories. All of this had to be part of this 16-minute cut. This is in keeping with the style of Real Stories and YouTube. There is so more to the story and so we want to do an extended cut to showcase the bigger picture. There is one female surfer who was convicted on drug trafficking charges in the United States. She is back home and finding it difficult to find employment and is finding so much peace and contentment in surfing. There are also women is all types of abusive situations who are using surfing to take a moment to step back and analyse their situation,” said Wilmot.

The release of Surf Girls Jamaica also coincides with the launch of a Go Fund Me account by Wilmot and her team to raise funds for female surfers in Jamaica. The crowd-funding project aims to raise a total of US $10,000 to assist the surfers with purchasing surf boards and other equipment, repairs as well as preparing and sending some of the girls to international competitions.

“Just like the Sunshine Girlz and the Reggae Girls, I want to our girls to be able to represent Jamaica on the international scene,” Wilmot added.

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