Mill Valley Surf Film Festival Brings the Love of the Ocean to Sweetwater on Saturday

With five featured films and nine shorts, Mill Valley organizer Ari Luri chose movies with inspiring and uplifting messages to celebrate the sport.

Ari Luri has been surfing for nearly 15 years, and at the end of the day it’s about one thing.

“I was always about loving the ocean,” Lurie said. And the movies he chose for the first Mill Valley Surf Film Festival - this Saturday, Oct. 20 starting at 11 a.m. at Sweetwater Music Hall - reflects that.

After reaching out to other festival organizers, researching the genre, and scouring YouTube, Lurie sorted through nearly 30 films in two months and picked out ones with uplifting and inspiring messages.

The five featured films: Lost and Found, Destination 3 Degree, Here and Now, The Green Iguana and Taylor Steel’s This Time Tomorrow will be accompanied by nine shorts. Sweetwater will also host live music by The Mermen on the patio, along with local photographers and charities.

Proceeds will support two nonprofits: Turtle Island Restoration Network, a Marin-based organization which works to protect marine wildlife and watersheds; and Ocean Voyages Institute, a Sausalito organization that supports ocean conservation and clean up efforts.

“Both projects really touched us for different reasons,” Lurie said.

He moved to Mill Valley in September 2011, and said the festival is a way for him to give back to his new hometown. The city also serves as the gateway to the surf culture of west Marin, and is an active community with an overall appreciation of the outdoors. He hopes it’s something people in Mill Valley, and in all of Marin, will enjoy.

“It’s all about celebrating the water,” he said. “You don’t have to be a surfer to love the ocean.”

The third graders at Old Mill School would probably agree. They’re working with art teacher Katie Thiel to create 115 all-day $65 Aloha passes, with the word ‘Aloha’ incorporated into their designs. Thiel is also working an environmental angle into the curriculum.

“We have a special section in our program for the event thanking them and Kiddo for supporting the festival,” said Nancy Zadoff. She and her husband Paul, along with Marsten Peterson, have been helping Lurie organize the festival.

It also just so happens that it falls on the heels of the Mill Valley Film Festival. While that wasn’t intentional, Lurie said he thinks it will help with people already being in the movie-watching mindset.

"We want it to become an annual festival," he said.

If you go:

  • What: Mill Valley Surf Film Festival
  • Where: Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave.
  • When: Saturday, October 20, doors open at 11 a.m.
  • Tickets: $65 for an all-day Aloha pass, or $10 for an individual set.


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