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Surfing against all odds

Gaza Surf Club.
This beautiful documentary takes us to the surfing world of the Gaza Strip and reveals an impressive resilience in a beleaguered population.

Gaza Surf Club is a kind of feel-good movie about young people in a bleak situation trying to, against all odds, follow the dream of surfing with proper equipment. The film starts with a geopolitical introduction to the area: The Gaza Strip is a closed coastal enclave that is susceptible to attacks and blockade from multiple angles, including from the sea. This is reinforced by an audio page with bombs and news releases about the fighting. Visually, the scene is established where the story is played: Maps point out the area, followed by pictures of the coast and waves hitting the beach. We see pictures of brick blocks and broken houses, and are then introduced to a bunch of enthusiastic surfers.

The cultural and economic differences between Gaza and Hawaii are obvious, and are explicitly juxtaposed in the film.

Three main characters carry the story: veteran Abu Jayab (42), fisherman and surfing instructor who appears rather bitter after being imprisoned in Gaza all his life; Sabah (15), who once excelled as a swimmer and surfer, but who, now that she has become a young woman, is forced to give up her passion; and not least Ibrahim (23), an ambitious surfer who dreams of opening a combined store and meeting place, and wants to travel to Hawaii to learn the best tricks of the game.

From Gaza to Hawaii. The story of these protagonists is told fairly straight forward. Abu Jayab is the oldest and most. . .

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Sanders is a critic, living in Rotterdam.

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