The need for an organization like the Institute became clear from conversations, over several years, between Professor Comer and several social change-oriented surfers who read Professor Comer’s book Surfer Girls in the New World Order (Duke University Press, 2010).  These surfers –particularly Farhana Huq of Brown Girl Surf and Cori Schumacher – reached out to Professor Comer to suggest they join forces to develop and sustain new projects.  Several of these were already underway including a grassroots film initiative with surfing girls in Bangladesh and India, sponsored by Brown Girl Surf, as well as a direct action campaign, spearheaded by Cori Schumacher, to demand that Roxy stop using women’s bodies to sell surf culture and products.

It Ain’t Pretty is a film about women who surf in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. Over the next year we plan to follow and document these Bay Area women. We want to explore what drives their passion. We will be talking with a variety of women with a range of surfing ability and skills, from the passionate beginner to the professional big wave surfer and find what it is that draws all of these women to surf these unforgiving waters.

Read more about It Ain’t Pretty.

elizabeth Pepin SilvaElizabeth Pepin Silva is a filmmaker, photographer, researcher,writer, and surfer born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now living in Ventura County, CA. For nearly two decades she has been making films independently and for PBS and has won five Emmy Awards and several film festival awards for her television and documentary film work. Her numerous projects include Slow the Flow, Coastal Clash,” and One Winter Story. Elizabeth was a staff producer at KQED, the public television station in San Francisco, where most recently she was Series Producer of “Truly CA,” a documentary series featuring films about the Golden State. She oversaw the station’s New Proposals and the LINCS programs – helping guide and advise outside producers wishing to work with PBS and KQED. She is also a music licensing maven and archival research specialist.

SeaLevelTV’s vision is to create short films that “explore idiosyncratic cultures and exceptional people who are emblematic of life and culture interwoven with the ocean.”  Their shows are “very different than most you’ll see in the action sports and ocean-lifestyle genre. We produce epic mini journeys that celebrate realness, the intrepid human spirit and creative ways of overcoming challenges.”  As examples, SeaLevel has done “Worm Dreams Big: A Tribute to the Benevolent Badasses of the Women’s Longboard Community”

Named in honor of Polynesia’s first female surfers, Brown Girl Surf TM is dedicated to fostering a diverse, alternative women’s surf community in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world.