Project teaches women to surf in Iran
'Waves of Freedom' project seeks expansion
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 January, 2013 : - - In 2010, we travelled to Iran with Easkey Britton, an Irish professional athlete and women’s champion who practices the sport synonymous with freedom: surfing. The welcome was surprising. The locals were very enthusiastic to see surfing for the first time in this part of Iran.
Covered from head to toe with a hijab made from lycra, Easkey became the one of the few, if not the first woman to surf in the Islamic Republic of Iran. At the end of our trip, the Iranian people asked if we would come back to teach surfing.
Iran is not a country known for its surf-exposed coastline. On our first visit, however, we discovered the place to surf is in the province of Baluchistan, the poorest region of Iran and also one of the most traditional. This is a part of Iran that doesn’t feature highly in any travel guides, let alone the surf magazines.
Sport has an important place in the social life of Iranians and in the towns and parks, we saw women participating in sport as well as men. But in a less developed and more rural region such as Baluchistan the weight of tradition and religion was more present.
We have therefore decided to return to teach surfing in Baluchistan to Iranian sports women and share our passion for sport together. Surfing in particular is an activity that is strongly associated with the sense of freedom it gives those who do it.
We want to explore the potential surfing has to offer this sense of freedom in a place like Iran were freedoms can be restricted, where access to the surf is limited, especially for women who must stay covered even in the water. Through learning a new sport we will try to understand the difficulties and issues that these women face and the importance of sport in their lives.
This documentary develops the concept of ‘Waves of freedom’, as energy waves which form both in the ocean to create waves that can be surfed and also sound waves created by song and music. Both are often considered by those whose passion is music and/or surfing as powerful, creative forms of self-expression and freedom. Therefore, as well as sport, we would like to understand the potential for women to express themselves through music and song-writing.
The documentary explores if sport and art could prove to be the means for women to experience greater freedom
During our initial visit we will stay in the capital of Iran, Tehran, for a few days to meet with several famous female Iranian singers, artists and writers.
To teach surfing we will be based at the sea port of Chabahar, Iran’s largest ocean port and free-trade zone. It is a two hour flight from Tehran and gateway to Iran’s southeastern coast, bordering Pakistan. Chabahar is a surprisingly big and developed town on the fringes of Iran in the middle of a desert landscape with an estimated population of 84,557 in 2009.
Despite all this, the province of Baluchistan today is one of the least developed, most isolated and poorest in Iran. It is also a point of passage for the trafficking of opium from Afghanistan. Considered a dangerous region, the police and the government assure the security of the rare visitors to the area.
There is, however, a real willingness from the government to develop the tourism activities in the region, almost entirely dependent on fisheries, apart from the trade port of Chabahar. Key cultural officials consider our visit a positive point.
At Chabahar, we will homestay with local families, which will allow us to better integrate with the local culture. Our on-the-ground contact is Ahmad Sheiki, a PhD student who works for the improvement of ethical tourism development in the region of Baluchistan.
To give an added dynamic to the documentary, Easkey and Marion will both have cameras to film each other. This will give two points of view, two experiences and feelings. The mixed culture and personalities of a French director and an Irish surfer.
The core focus of the shoot will be the surf lessons with the young Iranian sports women, capturing their experience of this new sport and the status of women in sport and in life in general in Iran. For example, how sportswomen are perceived in Iran; the rights, opportunities, and also the constraints they encounter; the weight of the veil, their hopes, dreams and struggle; If they have enjoyed surfing and if they wish to continue.
We will also meet with representatives of the region to learn how our visit is perceived, if they truly wish to develop a new tourist attraction around surfing and if there is real potential to realise this.
All the moments will be spent with Iranian people and the local population and the aim is to give the documentary the feel of a travel diary.
Easkey Britton is Ireland’s no.1 professional Irish surfer and five times national champion. She has pioneered women’s big-wave surfing in Ireland and is known for surfing the biggest waves ever ridden by a women in Ireland. More recently she has become known as the first women to surf in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Used to travelling the globe since an early age, she likes to share her passion and understand the experience of life for the local people in the places she visits. Following the success of her first visit to Iran to surf, she decided to return to share her sport with other Iranian sportswomen to better understand the impact and importance of sport for these women who are forced to wear the veil.
Marion Poizeau is a French director who recently finished two documentaries diffused on French National TV station France O in October 2012.
- Iran , a veil and the waves
- Kurdistan, the amazing journey of Marion
Following the success of her documentary in Iran she decided to return there to explore in greater depth a topic close to her heart, which is the status of women. Thanks to the response of a number of Iranians and contacts made on her first visit she returns to film Iran, the women, art and surf.
During the trip, several people will be filmed and interviewed such as Iranian sports women, musicians, and creative writers. We will engage with local people to try to understand the eventual impact of our visit on the inhabitants where we will stay. We will also film all the reactions to the unpredictable moment of Iranian surfing and women surfing in Iran. We have several contacts on location who are helping us organise and prepare for the shoot.
Source: Keiko Beatie
Author: The Editors
Tags: Iran, Easkey Britton, Project