Wavescape Film Awards Announced

May 15, 2023
A photo taken during the filming of Humanity Stoked. Image provided.

Feature documentary Humanity Stoked about the intersection between the human condition and skateboarding has won best feature film at the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival in Cape Town.

The winners of three awards for Best Film (Feature), Best Film (Medium) and Best Film (Short) were announced after judges completed the process of watching and deliberating over the films. The award for Best Film (Medium) went to Con Duende, a study of flamenco dancing in southern Spain that poetically explores the similarities of surfing and flamenco culture. The Best Film (Short) went to Amble, a visual ode to the cross-stepping dance when you "walk the nose" of a longboard.

Humanity Stoked, directed by New York filmmaker Michael Ien Cohen, is a philosophical film that discusses how humanity can move forward as espoused by iconic skateboarders, activists, scientists, artists, musicians, and educators unified by unique experiences and perspectives shaped by skateboarding.

Head of the judging committe Glen Thompson said the film was an "ambitious documentary film" that sought to "connect people across culture, place and identity through skateboarding". The film touches on class, race, gender, sexuality, and disability, social exclusion and inclusion, counterculture and youthful dissent that shapes a sometimes fractured look at the world around us.

One monster Kerby Brown has to face

The dramatic big wave documentary Facing Monsters took a narrow second. The feature film, using high production values and awe-inspiring footage of terrifying big surf, depicts the hell-bent antics of Kerby Brown as he dangerously pushes the envelope of surfing at remote Western Australia reef breaks. The waves may be the physical monster Brown has to face, but it plays on the idea that there are other monsters at play, and not just internal. Thompson said: "The nub of the film is spoken at a Brown family gathering when Kerby’s father insightfully remarks about an early big wave photograph of Kerby published in a surf magazine:

Wavescape Film Awards Announced

'If he makes it that’s good, but if you get nailed, they like it more.' The monster in this film is not Kerby Brown’s inner monsters, or the monster waves, but the commodification of risk by the surf industry."

high production values and awe-inspiring footage of terrifying big surf

The Runner Up (Medium) to Con Duende was Natural High, an alternative look by Jack Coleman at how surfing and the countercultural movement in surfing blends with esoteric religious philosophy. The Runner Up (Short) to Amble was And Yet I remain, a powerful South African film by Rick Wall and Dougal Paterson about Caleb Swanepoel's difficult phsycological journey back from losing a leg to a shark bite in 2015.

The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival, presented by Vans, will take place in Cape Town in March 2024.

Best Film (Feature): Humanity Stoked
Runner Up (Feature): Facing Monsters

Best Film (Medium): Con Duende
Runner Up (Medium): Natural High

Best Film (Short):  Amble
Runner Up (Short): And Yet I remain