We all know that pull of the ocean, the way surfing always manages to intervene in best-laid plans, encouraging us to change course, halting or driving ambitions.
For Bonne Gea, surfing has been an agent of social change. Breaking from expectations and traditional village life in Nias, Bonne is Indonesia’s first female surfing champion. Her aunt thinks it’s time to stop ‘messing around’ in the sea and find a husband but Bonne is following her own path and inspiring a new wave of female surfers in her wake.
Ahead of its premiere at London Surf / Film Festival on Saturday 21st October we talk to Jersey filmmaker Rebecca Coley about ‘Changing Point’, Bonne Gea, the art of not marrying your cousin, blazing trails, head hunting, Nias and more.
For tickets: http://londonsurffilmfestival.com/saturday-21st-october/
How did Changing Point come about?
I first went to Nias on a travelling adventure in 2003. I fell in love with the people and the place – there was something magical and mysterious about it. I returned after the tsunami on an aid trip and returned again in 2008.
Changing Point is about Bonne Gea and her journey to become a surfing champ.
I had heard about this girl surfer from Nias who was sponsored long before I met her. Lots of the local Nias guys talked about her and how she lived in Bali. She was living the dream to them. I was fascinated that she was the only one of all the locals to get sponsored (as they are all really good) and she was a girl!
The Point at Nias serves as a microcosm for change as it is easy to see the impact of surfing and surf travel on this small place.
The old Nias tradition would dictate she marry her cousin and stay at home as homemaker from a young age so Bonne really blazed a trail to make her own way and become the first female surfing champion in Indonesia.
Now there are many more girls surfing, and many of the kids in Nias have been inspired by her, but at the time she was really going it alone. I admired her courage and saw universal themes we can all relate to in the choices we make in life and a struggle for success.
Changing Point explores not just about the changes in Bonne’s life but also reflects a larger change in parts of Indonesian society – how hard was that to capture?
The locals had gotten to know me over a period of time so they opened up to me when they understood what I was trying to do. Once the family got together they just chatted away and it soon became apparent the pressures Bonne faces from her family regarding the life she has chosen. That section is both funny and poignant to me – she kind of has her foot in both worlds and I think a lot of girls can identify with having a nagging mother or auntie like that. Bonne’s uncle is quite progressive in his views and gave her a lot of support so it was great to feature him in the story.
Changing Point is part of a larger film project Point of Change.
In making this film I was more and more fascinated by the history of Nias; the changes since colonial times and the fact the island always had invaders from overseas… Their traditional dance is a war dance, the villages are on hills as they used to ambush each other, there is a history of slave trading for gold and they used to practice headhunting…Then colonials came, Christianity came and slowly the Nias culture was lost. I guess the surfing pioneers brought a new type of colonialism with them. So the film explores this – we travel through time and the film is a mix of archive, animation and live action. The surf pioneers of the 1970s tried very hard to keep the wave a secret, but of course in finding paradise we destroy it, often without meaning to. We explore lots of these questions and more through the film as we travel the wave of change the Point has seen through the 1970s until today. Hopefully it’s quite a unique odyssey that will make people think.
When do you expect to bring Point of Change to the big screen?
Ahh the big screen! Hopefully next year. We are due for completion April 2018. It’s been a long slow process but hopefully it will have been worth it. And yes we really hope it well get lots of outings on the big screen when it’s ready. Hope to see you there. Thank you.
19 – 21 October London Surf / Film Festival x Reef brings to the UK the best surf films from around the globe – documentaries to inspire, travelogues to stir up the wanderlust and surfing to blow minds. Accompanied by talks with waveriding’s most inspiring heroes and icons, including Hawaiian big wave charger Albee Layer, surfer musician LeeAnn Curren and adventurer Kepa Acero plus live music, art, culture, good times pop up events 22 – 26 October and more this saline hit of inspiration is an essential cultural happening. For full schedule details head to:www.londonsurffilmfestival.com