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Gaza Surf Club (2016)

Not Rated | | Documentary | November 2016 (USA)
1:01 | Trailer
In a country locked between Egypt and Israel, Gaza's youth are drawn to their beaches. Weary of the daily 'state of emergency' they seek meaning and perspective to their lives through surfing.


Philip Gnadt, Mickey Yamine (co-director)
7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview:
Ibrahim N. Arafat Ibrahim N. Arafat ... Self
Mohammed Abu Jayab Mohammed Abu Jayab ... Self
Sabah Abu Ghanem Sabah Abu Ghanem ... Self
Matthew Olsen Matthew Olsen ... Self
Tom Stone Tom Stone ... Self
Learn more

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Trapped in "the world's largest open-air prison" and ruled by war, a new generation is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves of the Mediterranean - they are the surfers of Gaza.

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The opening written explanations include the word "costal" (should be "coastal"). See more »

User Reviews

Heartfelt and Fascinating, with Gentle Humor and Tinges of Sadness
28 April 2018 | by Better_TVSee all my reviews

Saw this film at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of the Palestine Film Festival -this was definitely a great one to enjoy with an audience. While I had seen news stories about Gaza and read about Gaza, this film really helped me to *feel* Gaza in a new way.

This film is about a small community of surfing hobbyists in Gaza City, but it's also about the working class there, where people work at drudgerous professions to sustain modest livings. We see the characters cutting scrapmetal and laboriously picking small fish out of netting; more than once in the film characters mention how boring their working lives are, and fisherman/middle-aged surfing instructor Mohammed Abu Jayab even goes as far as saying Gaza is a "hopeless" place. Throughout these scenes the war and conflict that has embroiled Gaza is never directly seen, though it is felt in the atmosphere and it informs the way the characters live. Symbolic markers of conflict often inform the cinematography, such as the ubiquitous crumbling buildings and trash-strewn beaches and vacant lots.

Some degree of respite for these characters comes from the surf, where Ibrahim and his friends pursue their seaborne passion. The film, thankfully, doesn't overuse cliched slow-motion surfing shots - they're there, but they're used sparingly. Surfing scenes in this movie are often coupled with fantastic music by Sary Hany and Omar El-Deeb; I'd love to see this again for the music alone.

While there are a number of Gazans featured in this documentary, the film is mainly about young Ibrahim, a gentle young man in his early 20s. He dreams of not only surfing with better equipment and boards, which are hard to come by in Gaza, but of also forming a legitimate "Gaza Surf Club" where people can congregate and share their passion. He muses often about what such a club would do for Gaza's image; he cares deeply for his home and laments the fact that it has been wracked by conflict. The second half of the film follows his travels to Hawaii, where he participates in a surfing internship with the help of an American sponsor named Matthew.

Other characters include Mohammed Abu Jayab, the unofficial instructor for many of the younger Gazan men who enjoy surfing, and Sabah, a 15-year-old girl with a supportive family whose father helps her surf despite the stigma against women participating in the hobby.

The film has many moments of gentle humor despite the somewhat grim setting, and the audience I was with laughed out loud frequently, including at one impromptu gag involving a toothbrush and Hamas (you'll know it when you see it). After the screening, director Philip Gnadt spoke with us via Skype about the current status of some of the characters; Ibrahim is now living in Houston, and many of the Gazans shown in the movie still surf, though there is no legitimate organizing group or club for their pastime.

Overall this is a great movie with fantastic subject matter. It isn't always edge-of-your-seat gripping, but it will introduce you to some wonderful, good-natured characters who are just trying to get through their lives and pursue a cool hobby, though fate and the governmental stranglehold placed on their home often stand in their way.

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Arabic | English | Hawaiian

Release Date:

November 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Mile Riders See more »

Filming Locations:

Gaza, Palestine See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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