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STWFF2016 Tour Dates

Save The Waves Film Festival is bigger than ever! We’re expanding the tour to U.S. West and East Coasts, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

STWFF_EastCoasrPoster_WebsiteU.S. East Coast Tour Dates

8/19 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Wave Riding Vehicles, 1900 Cypress Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

8/27 – Long Beach Island, NJ @ Farias Surf & Sport, 2800 Long Beach Blvd, Ship Bottom, NJ 08008

9/2 – East Hampton, NY @ Guild Hall, 158 Main St, East Hampton, NY 11937

U.S. West Coast Tour Dates

11/3 – San Diego, CA @ Bird’s Surf Shed, 1091 W Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

11/5 – Dana Point, CA @ Ocean Institute, 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629

11/10 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Patagonia Outlet, 415 River St., #C Santa Cruz, CA 95060

11/11 – Venice, CA @ Farm League, 668 Rose Ave, Venice, California 90291

11/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Stay tuned for future dates in Seattle, Portland, Australia and Mexico! 


What is the Save The Waves Film Festival?

imageSave The Waves Film Festival is an international film tour and fundraiser in November of each year – a benefit for Save The Waves’ environmental programs and campaigns. Movies alone can’t change the world – but the people who watch them can. Save The Waves documentary films and the Film Festival educate and inspire audiences to protect the coastline. Our interest is not to make films promoting nor glorifying activism, but rather film as activism.

2015 Films

Save The Waves Film Festival 2015 – Official Selections

The 2015 Save The Waves Film Festival presented by Pacifico is proud to announce film selections for the 7th annual international tour, visiting seven cities in California, Texas, Mexico, & Chile throughout November and early December. A very special thanks to our supporting sponsors: Patagonia, Clif Bar, The Inertia, and Volcom.

World Premier

This film takes you into the mind of the mysterious Nic Lamb. Most people don’t know this, but Nic is not only a professional big wave surfer, he is also a commercial actor and he currently resides in Venice Beach, CA. You will see why he moved away from his beloved hometown of Santa Cruz, what a day in the life of Nic Lamb looks like and of course some epic big wave riding from Mavericks and Punta De Lobos, Chile. Directed by Kyle Buthman & Taylor Paul.


When artist Mac Premo was asked by WWF-UK and Do the Green Thing to show how creativity can encourage people to live a greener lifestyle, he partnered with Sanford Shapes to make skateboard decks out of upcycled material. When the prototype proved successful, the idea shifted from figuring out how to make skateboards out of trash to how to give them to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have skateboards. Directed by Mac Premo.


There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, especially when they’ve supported you through your darkest times. Denali is the story of the relationship between photographer Ben Moon and his beloved dog, Denali. This short film is about friendship, loss and the beautiful fight for life.  Directed by Ben Knight.

World Premier

Dulce is a short documentary surf film that takes a fresh look at Pavones – both the wave that made it famous and other nearby gems. Spanning six months of swell, the film explores the beautiful, crusty, pure, and at times quirky lives of surfers reveling in Nature at the end of the road, and how those lifestyles may now be subject to change in the face of development. Directed by Patrick McMahon.


Ramón Navarro found his passion riding the biggest waves on the planet. But his accomplishments in giant surf are just one part of a bigger vision to protect the culture and environment of the Chilean coast. Recently named Best Film at the 2015 Allianz Portuguese Surf Film Festival. Directed by Chris Malloy.


A compelling look in to the life and creative process of El Segundo surfer and shaper Tyler Hatzikian. Directed by Jason Baffa.


Most would be grateful to simply survive. Many would graciously move forward appreciating the small moments that make the day-to-day. Mike Coots? He wanted more. And not only for himself, but for sharks, including the tiger shark that took his leg. Mike Coots is a surfer. Mike Coots is a survivor. Mike Coots is an advocate. Mike Coots is an ICON. Directed by Alex Smolowe.

I LOST MY DREAM: The True Story of Moacir Zeledon
North America Premier

Moacir’s dreams stray from typical boyish fantasies of superheroes and pirates. He wants nothing more than to escape his Nicaraguan life of poverty and abuse to live the American dream. The mission teaches Moacir that unlike many childhood narratives, dreams don’t always come true, but the journey can teach you lessons far greater. Directed by Stefan Hunt.

World Premier

“Inside the Mind of Sachi Cunningham” explores this Emmy Award winning journalist’s deeper motivations and recounts harrowing winter missions with Big Wave World Tour Champion, Bianca Valenti, at the feared, fabled and often ferocious Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California.  Written, produced, and directed by Jeff Den Broeder and Beth O’Rourke.


In the rush of water spilling from the high mountain peaks of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, surfers are finding standing waves that move with life and never end. The first of two shorts out of the documentary “Living Rivers”, set to be released next spring, looking at the intimate relationships that exist between people and rivers and how our relationship with our watersheds ties us all together. “Living Rivers – Surf” explores the world of Kevin Benhardt and the crew at Strongwater Mountain Surd company based out of Missoula MT.  Directed by Max Lowe.

World Premier

The typical surfboard is made of toxic foam that doesn’t decompose. “RE” is a film that challenges every surfer to rethink the way they look at beat up, old surfboards and consider the potential backyard shaping has to not only keep foam out of landfills, but also to innovate new designs. Directed by Chad Richmond.


Farm League and “Voyage of the Cormorant” author, Christian Beamish, produced a video response to the 140,000 gallon oil spill that stained the Santa Barbara coastline — their home — on May 19, 2015. As clean-up efforts continue, many questions and a sense of frustration remain. Directed by Chris Malloy.

North America Premier

An intimate portrait of traditional Chilean coastal lifestyles and “the gift” of surfing. Directed by Eduardo Bartolomé.


“Watu” is the story of a coast’s first visitors, featuring Chad Jackson and Cliff Kapono. Directed by Jensen Young Sik.


The Wild’ featuring Noah Beschen is the 2015 REDirect Surf Film Festival Grand Prize Winner.  Presented by RED Digital Cinema & Surfer Mag. REDirect Surf was a filmmaking competition to see who can create the most unique and original surf short of the year using RED Dragon 6K cameras. Directed by Aaron Lieber.

Widerstehe Doch Der Sünde
North America Premier

A gang of zombies hang out at the beach and catch some waves. The idea for the video fell straight out of the track. It sounds obvious but it doesn’t always happen with every track we are sent. Nicolas Godin’s sound is so beautiful and atmospheric we knew that we wanted to make a black and white surf film. The zombie element came a bit later. It meant we could push it into a different reality. There’s a lot of surf films out there but most are set in a world we already know. We wanted to create a world with it’s own rules. Something that felt slightly more dream-like. Particularly at night when these zombie surfers could have their own set of rules and rituals. Directed by Ed Raye & Alexander Mavor.

Host Your Own Film Festival

For information about licensing and hosting a film festival contact films@savethewaves.org

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Film Festival Selection Committee

Nikki Brooks

NikkiBrooks_5543Photographer Nikki Brooks loves people, and the funny and interesting things they do. Add that love to an irrepressible natural curiosity, and an affinity for immersive experiences, and the result is a tireless devotion to documenting the lifestyles of her subjects as they adventure through life.

Nikki also crews aboard the O’Neill Sea Odyssey educating children about marine biology and ecology in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Nikki enjoys collaborating with like minded surfers to create imagery that will inspire others to protect the waves, coasts, and shorelines of places both near to home and those far away.

Jack Chapman

Jack Chapman

Jack Chapman is a photographer and filmmaker living on the West Coast of the United States.  He earned his master’s in social documentation from the Film and Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Jack works as a lecturer and researcher for the Visual Art Department at UCSC and is currently engaged in a mixed media project involving tall ships.  Some of Jack’s work can be seen at www.contentcontained.com

Christian Charles

Christian CharlesBritish native and former professional ocean yacht racer, began his creative career as a writer, art director, creative director and director working on commercials for Pepsi, Lucas Films, Hershey, Ford as well as launching webMD during the internet boom. Most notably, he developed the decade long American Express campaign featuring Jerry Seinfeld spawning an 18 year writing and producing partnership with Seinfeld.

Christian is a multiple ad industry award-winner including holding CLIOs, EFFIEs, Cannes Bronze, Silver and Gold Lions. He’s written and produced over a dozen Super Bowl commercials for the world’s largest brands. A number of his pieces reside in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Christian is a pioneer of branded and online content and has developed, written, produced and directed shows for NBC, MTV, E! Entertainment, American Express, PBS, Comedy Central and most recently COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE sold to SONY/Crackle/Acura and the current web series THE UNMOVERS for Optimum Cable, currently racking up over a million hits per episode online. Christian has directed a broad range of talent, among them Rene Zellweger, Chris Rock, Steven Spielberg, Jim Gaffigan, Charlotte Rae, Colin Quinn, Ray Liotta, Jerry Seinfeld, Kate Mara, M. Emmett Walsh and Bill Clinton.

He has directed and produced four theatrically released films in the genres of comedy, thriller and documentary, Jerry Seinfeld’s COMEDIAN being the highest grossing documentary ever at time of release. Christian has worked with major Hollywood Studios including Miramax, New Line Cinema, The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks Animation. He has also put his creative mind to children’s music education with the creation of the NOISY NOTES.

Christian is currently developing projects in the fields of Branded Content, Digital Series, Sit-Com, Episodic Television, Documentary and Feature Films. He is the President and Co-founder of mouseROAR.

Sachi Cunningham


Sachi Cunningham is a documentary filmmaker and Professor of  Multimedia Journalism at San Francisco State University. Her award winning stories have screened at festivals worldwide, and on outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS FRONTLINE, FRONTLINE/World and the Discovery Channel. The Emmys, Webbys, and Pictures of the Year International have honored Cunningham’s work.

A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham’s documentaries focus on international conflict, the arts, disability, and the ocean environment. On land she has turned her lens everywhere from the first presidential election in Afghanistan, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the water, she has swum with her camera along side everything from 350-pound blue fin tuna to big wave surfers, to Olympian, Michael Phelps. Once an assistant to actress Demi Moore and Director/Producer/Writer Barry Levinson, Cunningham brings a decade of experience in feature films and commercial productions in New York, Hollywood and Tokyo to her career in journalism and filmmaking.

John Daniels

John DanielsJohn Daniels is a true outdoors man! He’s constantly seeking adventure around the globe. John’s traveled and competed in several surf competitions over the past 12 years. He was a top amateur in high school and then moved on to the WQS tour. This afforded him the opportunity to travel and surf some of the best waves in the world. John has always been a part of the local surfing community and has has ran a surf camp every summer for the past 15yrs.

He’s felt his calling is to Judge surfing and help inspire the next generation through instruction. He is still in the water weekly and always keeping an eye out for the next big swell. John is still traveling throughout the US, Mexico, and occasionally internationally. If he gets a day off from the beach, you can find him in the local mountains and deserts exploring new rock climbing areas. He’ s hiked the tallest mtn. in the contiguous US and spends time backpacking and hiking the western States.

Trey Highton, Save The Waves Film Festival Director

BROOKS_-123Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Trey grew up around Hobie Cats and fishing boats and made frequent surf trips to the islands of the Outer Banks, NC. He followed an unconventional path of studies as an undergraduate that saw him through four universities on both coasts of the United States. This experience only fueled a sense of wanderlust and adventure that remains unabated today.

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz in ’08 with a degree in Creative Writing, Trey traveled the South Pacific and Central America working as a surf guide to pay his way. These experiences would serve as field studies for his graduate research. Trey is currently pursuing a PhD from UCSC centered on surfing and globalization – examining surfing as an agent of change among developing countries throughout the Pacific basin.

While pursuing his PhD, Trey is teaching several courses related to the history and culture of surfing. Along with his work as a Research Fellow for Save The Waves, Trey is also the UCSC Liaison for the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, as well as the Executive Director and Founder of the UCSC Sea Slugs.

Nik Strong-Cvetich, STW Executive Director

Nik HeadshotWith over 7 years of experience leading innovative conservation projects, Nik’s mission is to help provide coastal communities with the tools they need to be effective in valuing, protecting and managing their own natural resources. Before joining Save The Waves, Nik founded professional training programs in conservation project management, worked as a consultant in ecotourism development in coastal communities worldwide, and built innovative programs focused on water resource issues in the Monterey Bay area. In addition to Save The Waves, he is an adjunct professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, teaching on topics water resource issues and non-profit management.

He holds a BA from Lewis and Clark College and a Masters in Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, with a focus on conservation and international non-profit management. In 2009, he produced and directed his first documentary film, BUILD, which documented the first skateparks in Uganda and Nicaragua and was featured in the Santa Cruz and Seattle Film festivals. He has traveled and surfed widely and is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian.

Growing up as the son of a fisherman and a teacher in Washington State, the coast has always played an important role in his life. When not at the office, Nik can be found in the water around Santa Cruz.

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2016  Save The Waves Film Festival Presented By:


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