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Heart of the Sea

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Heart of the Sea which won the audience award at the San Francisco International Film Festival airs tonight on Independent Lens on many PBS stations (check local listings).

The hour-long documentary is a profile of surfer Rell Sunn. It starts off as a fairly standard biography (including some great footage from Wide World of Sports in 1978) until she developed breast cancer in 1982 (the same year she was the top ranked surfer). It chronicles her struggle with cancer and her work to educate women in Hawaii about the disease while she continues to surf.

At a screening at the festival, filmmakers Charlotte Lagarde and Lisa Denker talked about the film. Lagarde had made an earlier documentary about a surfer with breast cancer and another on four surfers in Santa Cruz and all of them regarded Sunn as a hero (their next project is a history of women in surfing).

Heart of the Sea is available on VHS and will be out on DVD in the future. There will also be screenings this month in LA, NYC and Chicago.

David Brown did the documentary Surfing for Life on older surfers. Susan Orlean’s piece on Maui surfer girls was the basis for a documentary and feature film both called Blue Crush (and it was also collected in her collection of New Yorker pieces).

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