Online video “Away” uncovers the feminine side of NYC’s surf culture

NYC female surfer and career woman Jee Mee Kim makes her way to the waves at Rockaway Beach. Photo credit: Elisa Bates.
NYC female surfer and career woman Jee Mee Kim makes her way to the waves at Rockaway Beach. Photo credit: Elisa Bates.

Taxis honking, pigeons fluttering, subway cars rumbling, sidewalks crowding: it’s another morning in New York City. There are men with briefcases and women in heels, hurriedly making their way to high-power jobs in gleaming skyscrapers. One women, hair slightly damp, dashes down a city block…with a glossy surfboard tucked under her arm.

Wait…I thought we were in New York City. Umm…we are.

Since its arrival online in early 2013, “Away,” a short film created by artist and filmmaker Elisa Bates premiere at the New York Surf Film Festival in September 2012, has revealed a little-known secret about New York City: more and more of its women are taking to local surfing at spots like Rockaway Beach in Queens; squeezing in “surf seshes” before and after work all year long.

In her film, Bates profiles three memorable NYC women: rough-and-tumble artist Katrina Del Mar, soft-spoken professional Mary Leonard and the serious financial planner Jee Mee Kim. The film opens beautifully, showing Del Mar jumping out of bed, prepping a cup of tea and pulling on her wetsuit before strapping a surfboard to her car and heading to Rockaway Beach for a surf sesh before work.

The film is artistic, fully narrated by Bates’s three characters and filled with attention grabbing juxtapositions, like the woman toting a surfboard down a New York City block. In their intimate narration, these women discuss their histories, surfing experience, jobs, friends, families and anxieties. They talk about why they love surfing enough to make it an essential part of their everyday lives–no matter what the weather and what else is going on in their lives.

“Away” offers viewers an honest, captivating look into the lives of this little-known, but growing cohort of female surfers in NYC.

AWAY (short film) from Elisa Bates on Vimeo.


Bates also released a teaser trailer to accompany her full-length film. Check it out!

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