SheChange will be a feature length documentary film about the fight for gender equity in the sport of big wave surfing.
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SheChange is a documentary journey with the best female big wave surfers in the world as they fight for a heat in the famed Mavericks competition in Northern California.
Along the way our four protagonists, Bianca Valenti, Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms and Andrea Möller, ban together to form a players league and seek legal and political help from Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan, former merchant marine and lawyer Karen Tynan, and the California Coastal Commission, who stands behind their fight for equal access to the coast and refuses to grant an event permit unless women are allowed to compete. This is something that previous contest directors claim is impossible because of the danger and lack of skill among the women.
These female big wave surfers not only prove contest directors wrong with their performance on big waves in California, Oahu and Maui, but the California State Lands Commission also weighs in and requires a prize purse equal to the men.
The World Surf League (WSL) is forced to either forfeit the contest or offer pay equity across the board for all contests around the world.
The WSL stands on the right side of history and become the first U.S. based sports league in the history of competitive professional athletics to offer equal prize money for men and women.
Buoyed from this victory, with supportive shout outs from the likes of tennis pioneer Billy Jean King, the women head into the fall/winter season ready to face the deadliest wave on the planet and show the world that women have rights equal to men to adventure, commune with nature and take their unique skills to the next level.
Told through the first-person perspective of journalist, filmmaker, water photographer and cancer survivor Sachi Cunningham, who swims in and under the same big waves the women are surfing, Cunningham shares unprecedented access over the four year lead up to this victory, an inflection point in sports history and timely tale of female empowerment and achievement.
Director Sachi Cunningham is a pioneer water photographer at San Francisco’s notoriously treacherous break, Ocean Beach. An award-winning filmmaker and photojournalist with degrees from Brown University and UC Berkeley, she is a rare female voice in the field of surf storytellers. Her work has taken her from the deserts of Iraq to the shores of the Amazon for outlets including PBS Frontline, the NYTimes, LA Times, and top surf magazines. She mentors young filmmakers as a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. A cancer survivor and mother, Cunningham has been included in both Surfline’s list of top filmmakers and Surfer Magazine’s list of top water photographers. Through her unique perspective, she gives viewers unprecedented access to this story.