Big Wata

Surf's up in Sierra Leone

Big Wata During the Ebola outbreak, the younger members of a traditional fishing community discover their identity and purpose through surfing as they join the first and only surf club in Sierra Leone. This beautifully shot documentary shows the diversity and resilience of West Africa, and how a dream can bring light in an otherwise dark time.

LaurelSanta Barbara International Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelSan Francisco Frozen Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelMiddlebury New Filmmakers Festival - Official Selection
LaurelHonolulu Surf Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelSan Diego Surf Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelOmbak Surf Film Festival (Bali) - Official Selection
LaurelShore Shots Irish Surf Festival - Official Selection
LaurelParis Surf Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelPortuguese Surf Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelBrest Surf Film Festival - Official Selection

The Producers

Gugi Van Der Velden - Director

Born in London and currently living in Amsterdam, Gugi Van Der Velden is a director and writer. After studying business he decided to pursue his passion for film. Together with his love for Africa this came to fruition in Big Wata.

Making The Film

Director's Statement

We decided at a very early stage to make a documentary about surfers and not to make a conventional surf film. The main distinction lies in the telling of the personal development of the characters, to tell an intimate story covering universal themes. We also decided to tell these stories through scenes and not to use a voice-over or interviews. We had a very intensive 6 week period of shooting. During that time we worked every day. Because the producer, Floris Loeff, knew the members of the surf club access wasn’t much of an issue. So our effort went into gaining trust, finding the underlying issues, building story and getting enough coverage. To me Big Wata touches on the power of hope and dreams and that once these dreams are attained they make way for new dreams, your horizon shifts.

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