“Surfing can be that one split-second that is your pause,” says Imani Wilmot during the opening sequence of Surf Girls Jamaica, as she pushes her board out into the waves.
“Where you’re like, ‘Okay, how am I going to approach my day, how am I going to improve my own life, how am I going to make things better for myself and everyone around me? It gives you that moment.”
The short documentary, directed by Lucy Jane and Joya Berrow, shines a light on Imani’s grass roots activism in Eight Mile Bull Bay, a small fishing community just outside of Kingston, Jamaica. Having taken it upon herself to shoulder the responsibility of supporting local women, Imani – along with fellow activist Rhonda Harper, who heads up the Black Girls Surf movement – uses surfing as a tool to create community, as well as a network of emotional support for those around her.
“The surf industry is undoubtedly dominated by white men,” explain Jane and Berrow, speaking collectively on why the story is one that needs telling. “We have been stuck in an age where the one-dimensional image of a sexualised white female surfer perpetuates as the stereotype, driven by large brands who shape global surf representation.”
Surf Girls Jamaica follows the small collective of surfers that Imani has created as they gear up to host Jamaica’s first ever all-women surfing contest. For the group, it’s a case of creating their own space within a society that is, as the subjects of the documentary term it, oppressive to women.
Elsewhere, Jane and Berrow dive into the personal stories of the individuals that make up the film, exploring how surfing has offered them an outlet. For all of the women – Imani included – their relationship with the ocean is of profound importance.
“I think the most beautiful thing about surfing is that there doesn’t have to be an end goal,” says Imani. “With most sports you have a target – whether it be a finish line, a performance time, or ranking. With surfing, it’s just about you in the moment. Learning and improving your skills, while immersing yourself in the healing qualities of nature.”
“Surfing allows you to completely detach from society and allows you a chance to breathe and be calm, to get out any frustrations and reset you – so you can take on the world again.”
Watch Surf Girls Jamaica, a Real Stories original, now.