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YAMA ︱Lucy Small

Surfer and activist Lucy Small will debut her film, Yama, filmed and edited by British filmmaker Maddie Meddings at Randwick Ritz on March 28, and CSpace Newquay, Cornwall, UK, on April 1 (Both sold out). An additional screening on April 1 at Ocean Grind Torquay, Australia, still has tickets. Check the YAMA website for future screenings - the film is coming to the USA in May 2023 at the Dana Point Film Festival. The film is presented by Project Blank.

This is the first film project I have led, and it was such an exciting opportunity to go to Ghana and meet with women and girls who are choosing their own paths to surf and skateboard. It has also felt important to work on a female-led project, telling a story of women and girls pushing boundaries. ~Lucy Small

Yama is a cinematic short surf documentary that tells a story that challenges the representations that many African nations are commonly subjected to in western media. Yama begins in the bustling city of Accra, where Lucy meets with members of a collective called Surf Ghana, which owns and runs a skatepark and community hub in the capital city of Accra. Founded by Sandy Alibo, the project is designed with dedicated women and girls only days to ensure full access and participation.

What Sandy and Justice are doing is so innovative and creative. We aimed to tell a story that doesn't just feed into old tropes about poverty and deprivation across Africa but shows the kind of drive and joy that goes into building a boardsports industry in the country from within the communities that live there. ~Lucy Small

The film then travels to the wave-rich coastline, where communities are driving the budding Ghanaian modern surf scene. The local Obibini Girls Surf Club is a small coastal group founded by Justice Kwofie, who trains teenage girls in fitness and surfing and aims to train Ghana's first female surf instructors. The Fantes are the people who populate the area where female surfers live and strive. Yama is the name for the wooden boats that still cross Ghana's shoreline today.

Lucy was brought into the limelight in 2021 after calling out the organizers of a Sydney surf competition for awarding unequal prize money to men's and women's division winners in a video that went viral. Lucy then co-founded a campaign for gender equality in sports, calling on the NSW Government to make equal prize money and equal opportunity a precondition for sports clubs and organizations to receive government funding.

For so long traditional surf media and advertising have shown a really one-dimensional identity of the surfer. We're seeing this start to change, but it's important that we keep telling these stories to ensure that surfing becomes a more inclusive place and everyone can feel like they belong in lineups. We hope this film makes a contribution to this shift. ~Lucy Small

Lucy has taken this campaign globally, aiming to highlight a female surf community in West Africa and challenge the historical representation of Ghanaians in a story of reclamation and joy. The film explores the surf history of Ghana, in which Ghanaian people were known to stand up and ride waves on wooden boards and surf canoes long before Europeans invaded the region. Based on the work of surf historian Kevin Dawson, the film proposes that the small community of surfer girls in Ghana's Western Region are reclaiming their relationship with the Atlantic Ocean after hundreds of years of disruption due to colonial occupation.


Additional Information

All photos courtesy of Lucy Small.

Yama Surf Film on Instagram

Yama Surf Film Website

Lucy Small Instagram

Maddie Meddings Instagram

Surf Ghana Instagram

Obibini Girls Surf Club Instagram

Project Blank Instagram

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