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.

8/4 – World Premiere at Portuguese Surf Film Festival, Ericeira, Portugal

STWFF 2016 artwork 2U.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

11/4 – 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

12/9 – Ensenada, MX @ Restaurante Marina Ensenada, Andador Turístico, El Malecón

12/17 – Oahu, Hawaii @ Turtle Bay Resort, 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731

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.

2016 Shorts

Save The Waves Film Festival 2016 – Official  Shorts Selections

“The Coast” / dir Skip Armstrong

Borderlands: the bridge between two worlds. Where the known meets mystery. Powerful, unforgiving–and exactly what Hayden Peters was looking for.  Trading the city for the daily sting of salt water on his skin, Hayden reveals how life on the coast brings him balance like no other place on earth could.

“Malloy Bros.” / dir Farm League

Following in the footsteps of their father, the Malloy brothers have been blazing trails off the beaten path since before they knew how to stand up on a surfboard. Their love of adventure has brought them to remote beaches all over the globe, earned them spots at the top of the competitive surfing world, and fueled their endless exploration.

“Water” / dir Morgan Maassen

A brief odyssey into the world that I cherish most.

“The Urchin Hunter” / dir Morgan Maassen

For over three decades my father has been harvesting Sea Urchins from the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. A day in his life can consist of anything as dramatic as dodging sharks and navigating foul weather, but when the elements align he can slip in and out of the sea effortlessly, gathering his bounty of the delicious shellfish. While this is a job cut out for for a select few of hardened men, he wouldn’t trade it for anything, as he considers it the ultimate office.

“Last Flight to Agadir” / dir Andrew Gough

Under the unforgiving cliff faces lay peeling waves…one after another. Unridden walls, pushed and thrown by a howling offshore and shadowed by a dry desert landscape. Created by powerful, Atlantic Ocean ground swells, these walls track towards land, becoming intense and perfect by the time they reach the western coastline.  The Last Flight to Agadir is a short film directed and shot by Andrew Gough featuring surfer Harrison Roach chasing a farfetched but much dreamt about swell in Northern Africa.

“Los Buscagigantes: Kohl Christensen” / dir Rodrigo Farias Moreno

Being close to the sea, Ramon Navarro has it in his blood.  But discovering big waves and how to surf them is thanks to one of his mentors and great friend Kohl Christensen from Hawaii, whom he met in Chile in the first Ceremonial Punta de Lobos.   Since then, they’ve shared almost 20 years of friendship, travels and many waves.  Kohl has a self-sustaining farm in Hawaii that has also been an environmental influence for Ramon.

“Dream Day” / dir Leo Hoorn

What would it feel like to begin your day in fresh powder and end it in the briny Pacific on the perfect sunset wave?  It would probably feel like a dream.  Four athletes set out to see if they could make that dream a reality – starting out in the Sierra backcountry, then rock climbing, cruising down Mt. Tam on mountain bikes, and capping it off with a surf at Stinson Beach.  Amazing adventures are possible when you get outside and dream big.

“Cold & Lovable” / dir Dan Norkunas & Albee Layer

Surfers Cam Richards, Kain Daly, Albee Layer, and Tyler Larronde explore the foreboding coastline and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

“Creators: Leah Dawson” / dir The Inertia

Profile of creative ambassador of women’s surfing Leah Dawson.  “My biggest compliment is not that I surf like a man, but that I surf like a woman,” says Leah. “If someone watches me ride a wave, I want them at the end of it to know that I’m in love with the ocean.”

“Patrimonio” / dir Lisa Jackson & Sarah Teale

As unrestricted development threatens water sources in Baja California Sur, Mexico, local peoples are beginning to push back against global business interests.

“Facing Ocean Plastic in Jamaica” / dir Parley

In March 2016, Parley kicked off a collaboration with TBA21 and Alligator Head Foundation to bring the Parley A.I.R. Strategy to Jamaica. The goal: end ocean plastic pollution through the power of art, community, and sports.

“Spaceship Earth” / dir Parley

The Official Parley Briefing, read by Captain Paul Watson.  Parley for the Oceans is the space where creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of the oceans, and collaborate on projects that can end their destruction.  Join the movement:

“The Sun Also Rises” / dir Chris McClean

Wherever you are in the world, on whatever day at some point the sun also rises.

Narrated by Burgs a spiritual teacher, connecting concentration and mindfulness. Featuring surfer Matt Smith: “I’ve spent time in meditation with Rinpoche (one of Burgs principle teachers) and through daily conscious living I’m trying to connect with what Burgs talks about here. I find myself so busy yet with so many wonderful things surrounding me I often forget to sit still and watch the birds, so this mediation is a reminder for all to sit and appreciate our incredible world.” 

“Mar” / dir Andrew Kaineder

Daylight wanes as sky becomes heavy. Isobars compress and warp; cross-sectioned onions on the nightly news. The coast awakens, transformed from the doldrums of summer. Warmth; a flickering memory, like those drawn upon for favourable conditions at half-forgotten spots. The ocean roars, resuming it’s age-old attack on the coastline in a relentless barrage of storm fronts. And so the hunt begins, chasing the nooks hidden from wind and seas. Schedule revolves around brief opportunities, better described as optimistic hunches. A goading carrot dangled, and ever so occasionally within reach. Winter chasing shapes on the fringes of the North Atlantic. A collections of moments captured along the way.

“A New Perspective” / dir Stefan Beaumont

From the “Our Island, Our Water, Our Future” short film series with The Nature Conservancy, we bring you a story of a waterwoman who’s as passionate about the water as she is about playing on it. “I am a part of the preservation of what I see in front of me.” – Evelyn O’Doherty

2016 Features

Save The Waves Film Festival 2016 – Official  Feature Selections

“The More Things Change” / dir Nathan Myers

Gerry Lopez first surfed Uluwatu in 1974. The fabled Balinese wave was pristine, magical, and empty. Gerry returned to Uluwatu 40 years later to find it bustling, developed, and a different scene. After a week of surfing and yoga, however, Gerry tapped into a spirit of place that will endure.

“Las Olas” / dir Joel Sharpe

Las Olas explores what it means to be a surfer. Through the telling of six stories from local surfers, we journey through Central America and discover the joy of surfing. For such a simple act of sliding over a wave, whole lives and landscapes change. Is surfing more than just a sport?

“Skeleton Sea” / dir Mauritz Solberg

João and Xandi, two surfers in their early 50’s, have been working together for 25 years. They clean beaches by picking up trash and create stunning artworks from it. But living as an artist and idealist in Portugal is not economically profitable and therefore not easy. Their family life is affected by the choices they make and their wish to raise awareness about the ever-growing pollution in our oceans.

“It Ain’t Pretty” / dir Dayla Soul

*Portugal Surf Film Festival screening only

A documentary about the challenges and triumphs of female big wave surfers fighting sexism in the water, in competition, in the media and in the surf industry with the support of a closely-knit community of like-minded women. Featuring Ocean Beach surfer Bianca Valenti’s journey from childhood phenom to world-class big wave charger, this probing, incendiary and thought-provoking film takes you inside a growing movement of women that are shattering the shallow and sexualized images of female surfers in the media. Including interviews with top female athletes and awe-inspiring big wave surf footage filmed in the icy waters of Ocean Beach, San Francisco and Mavericks – one of the biggest waves on the planet – this film empowers a new generation of girls to live their dreams and overcome the challenges they face along the way.

2016 Filmmaker Awards

Each recognized filmmaker will be awarded a curated collection of photography gear from our friends at Peak Design to help them continue to produce inspiring images and protect their equipment while travelling and working in the harshest of environmental conditions.  


Best Short Film:

“The Urchin Hunter”

directed by Morgan Maassen

Best Feature Film:

“The More Things Change”

directed by Nate Myers

Environmental Impact Award:


directed by Sarah Teale & Lisa F. Jackson

Judges’ Choice Award:

“The Sun Also Rises”

directed by Chris McClean

Host Your Own Film Fest

For information about licensing and hosting a film festival contact

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

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.


2016  Save The Waves Film Festival Presented By:


Supported By:

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