Local filmmakers Stephen Jones and Tatiana Velasco will share the story behind their soon-to-be-released surf art movie, El Mar Mi Alma (The Sea My Soul), on Friday evening, February 26, at a special event at Harvest Café, Newrybar.

Filmed on location in Chile by renowned photographer/cinematographer Dave Homcy, El Mar Mi Alma captures the essence of a coastal road trip and surfing journey with some of the world’s top pros – Dave Rastovich, Ramon Navarro, Dane Ward, Crystal Thornburg, Chris del Moro, Joel Parkinson, Christian Merello, Leo Acevedo and Diego Medina.

Director Jones describes the film as essentially a visual tone poem, which juxtaposes images, music, poetry and animation and inter-cuts cinematic surf sequences with littoral landscapes, local people and places, the movements of cast and crew, to paint a picture of Chile’s beauty and close association with the sea.

The film also features an original soundtrack by Chilean folk artist Manuel Garcia.

Jones’ and Velasco’s presentation is part of the launch of a month-long local celebration of international surf art and culture, taking place throughout March, showcasing new and different perspectives on our relationship with the ocean, through film, photography painting, drawing and sculpture.

It starts with Byron Bay International Film Festival (BBFF), which has always featured surf films and keeps a strong focus on this specialist genre throughout its 10-day 2010 program, from March 5 to 13.

BBFF Director, J’aimee Skippon Volke, says highlights of this year’s Festival include Bob McTavish, A Life in Shape, about one of Byron’s most famous pioneering surf personalities; The Arena: North Shore, chronicling the epic 2008 winter season in Oahu; and Somewhere Near Tapachula, which tells the story of an Australian couple who changed the lives of orphans and street kids in Tapachula, Mexico, with hope, love and a set of boards.

She has programmed nine surf films this year, but points out that this is just a tip of the iceberg of great films in this specialist genre.

On Friday February 26 at Harvest, she’ll join Jones and Velasco, whose film will premiere (as a sneak preview) at BBFF, to provide an insight to the latest developments and trends in surf film and docos, what she’s included in her program and why.

Then from March 11 to 25, Retrospect Galleries presents El Mar Mi Alma, the exhibition, exploring the global phenomenon of surf art across a multitude of media, from Byron Bay to Chile, the crest to underground.

The show will feature works by international surf artists, photographers and sculptors including Dave Homcy and Crystal Thornburg (Hawaii), Harry Daly (USA), Christian Tuki (Rapa Nui), Jose Nacho Vargas and Alfredo Escobar (Chile), plus leading Australian surf artists, Mambo’s Jeff Raglus, Quicksilver’s Peter Webb, legendary surf photographer Paul Witzig and some exceptional new talent such as Ryan Heywood, Luke Taaffe, James McMillan and Alberto Sanchez.

A preview of the show will be on exhibition at Harvest on February 26, and two local surf artists will talk about the unique influences that have shaped the development of their practice. James MacMillan, an Australian former pro surfer turned painter, and Alberto Sanchez, a Spanish artist/photographer/musician, who grew up in Madrid and first saw the ocean when he was aged 14,

El Mar Mi Alma (The Sea My Soul) at Harvest Café, pays homage to local surf culture and gives a view to what’s happening internationally.  Come along to meet some of the local artists and filmmakers who are a part of this incredible movement, plus enjoy great food (buffet style BBQ) and music by acclaimed singer/songwriter Danny Ross.

Starts 6.30pm, Friday February 26 at Harvest Cafe, 18 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar. Tickets $35 per person, bookings, 02 6687 2644

Images: Hilton Dawe, Sunset Silhouette on location for El Mar Mi Alma; Alberto Sanchez, Silver Surfer.