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Surf culture, music and movies at Berlin’s Straend Festival

Surf culture, music and movies at Berlin’s Straend Festival

“Well, in regards to surfing, I’ve learned that there is always another wave coming. Translated that means there is always tomorrow. No matter how badly you get caught inside, if you can just hang in there and keep paddling, the set is going to pass and there will be a lull afterwards. So don’t give up, just take your pounding, wait until the set passes, then make your move.”

Gerry Lopez

Ideally, this text should have been published at the end of August, right after the festival, not in October. But then life got in the way and work got in the way and, also, my desperate desire to spend as much time outside as possible. So now it’s October, but the happy, joyful, exultant, singing at the top of my lungs-memories of the festival still remain.

If you want to know what the Straend Festival and the Nord/ Nordost Film Festival that preceded it were like, then keep on reading and if you want to check out one of the upcoming Cine Mar Movie Nights, klick here.

2016 was already the second year that the festival took place. The formula of last year has pretty much remained the same: good music, impressive moves in lots of surf films and documentaries, art, a cool setting right beside the Spree and a bunch of chilled-out people. As soon as you entered the festival you just felt more relaxed. If you want to get an impression of the vibe last year, check out the short trailer on the right.


Before the festival even got underway, there was a whole week of surf films to enjoy at the Nord/ Nordost Berlin Surf Film Festival. Half of the week’s movies were shown in the freezing cold (on Tuesday I wore my woolen bobble hat and was still cold) but that didn’t keep anyone away. On Monday and with a view of the skyline around Potsdamer Platz, we got to enjoy the short film The Accord and the absolute masterpiece View from a Blue Moon. While The Accord was definitely one of the funniest surf movies I have ever seen, View from a Blue Moon was very much akin to visual poetry. The colours of the sea and the landscape mixed with the music and the sheer skill of John John Florence is simply stunning. For a little sneak peek, watch the trailer below.

The following days all had a different focus. From cold water surfing on Wednesday, to a surf-travel documentary on Thursday. If you want to know more about the movies that were on during the week, then klick here.

Straend isn’t just about good music and surf films, it’s also a great place to check out surf boards, trips, shorts and other surf outfits. The Marketplace is set apart a bit from the rest of the festival but this year, it still felt like a vital part of the rest. With a shaper at the festival, a skate ramp and other stuff you could try out, it was an awesome place to hang out between movies or before the festival really got underway. Unfortunately and thanks to the very changeable Berlin summer weather, the Marketplace got cut short and so I didn’t really get a chance to check everything out.

After an already full week of surf films, the Straend Festival had even more great surf films in store. From the documentary Fish that showed the development of the board shape, to the half talk-half documentary The more things change, which showed surf-legend Gerry Lopez talk about the way that Uluwatu has changed from the early days of his surfing life till now, Straend had a film program that covered almost all aspects of surfing.

This year, the emphasis was definitely on shorter films, which fit better into the rhythm of the festival with people going in and out and wanting to experience every facet of the festival.

If you’re already thinking about going to Straend next year, something to look out for will be the film Beyond. Andreas Jaritz, maker of The Old, the Young and the Sea, gave a sneak preview of images he and his team took while filming their new film Beyond. For this film, they traveled down the African coast from Morocco to the Senegal, capturing the people, their culture and the best surf. If the images and his stories are anything to go by, and they definitely are, then Beyond is going to be a must-see for any surf and travel enthusiast.

The big finale of the festival was the live concert by Sticky Fingers. The year before, the Glashaus, where the last act played was so crowded, that I didn’t even attempt to go in. This year, however, and surely due to the earlier rainstorm, the Glashaus wasn’t as crowded. The atmosphere in there was still at boiling point. All thanks to the amazingly crazy, sweaty and sheer stunning performance of Sticky Fingers. I had listened to their music before and seen pictures of the band but to see them perform live was simply amazing. Their dance moves and the way they lost themselves in their music was enough to make the entire Glashaus sing and dance and jump along with their beat. I stood near the front of the stage and I could feel the beat pulsing through my body. Any image or even video can’t give you a real impression of the atmosphere that was in that room.

Have you ever been at a surf culture festival? What did you think? If you have any recommendations of festivals I should check out, leave them down in the comments.