This month our Ocean Film Series Celebrates
International Women’s Month with SHE IS THE OCEAN
I AM A WOMAN OF THE SEA. NO ONE OR NO THING WILL EVER CAGE OR ENSNARE ME.
I have been here since time began. Without me all the riches in the world are nothing. And I hold in my heart and in my bones a spirit that matches the power of the ocean. She is a sister to me, the ocean. Since the dawn of time, I have been compared to her, named by her, I have been a symbol for her and she me. I have been the subject of countless superstitions, mysteries and hopes and dreams and impossible journey’s. I am as deep as her, as bountiful as her, as strong. When I am with her she is with me. I am hers and she is mine. She has taught me everything of worth that I know. She has taught me not to seek power over men, but power over myself. She has made my muscles strong, my mind stronger, my heart unbreakable. She has shared her secrets with me. Terrifying secrets, splendid secrets, cold secrets, dark secrets and light. We are the same she and I. We are the givers of life, the creators, the gatekeepers. She has given me freedom, courage, fear, love, wonder. She has given me a challenge and I have met it. She has beaten me, scorned me, laughed at me, drowned me, and helped me and saved me. When I see her, I see myself. My blood coursing through my veins as surely as her tides. When I need solace, when I need myself, I go to her and she takes me in. She has made me who I am. How I look and how I feel and how I love and who I love, she has given me. She has given me an independent will, a bold will an adventurer’s will. I have stood upon her highest crests, dove to her darkest depths, I have taken her bounty, I have plunged into her from the sky, I have sailed upon her roiling breast, I have studied her and she me. I know her moods and she knows mine and I know her creatures and I know some of her secrets and she mine. Like me, she is a mystery, an ever-present mystery. She has given me courage where there was none. She has given me everything, so I give her all I have. I trust her honesty, I trust her treatment of me. She is always fair. She never lies. She can always be seen in my eyes. And she has given me her power and I have given her mine.
BECAUSE SHE AND I ARE SISTERS. AN UNBREAKABLE BOND. AND SHE, THE OCEAN, HAS TAUGHT ME THIS: I WILL NEVER BE WHAT YOU CALL ME…I WILL ONLY BE WHAT I ANSWER TO. AND THE QUESTION WILL NEVER BE WHO IS GOING TO LET ME…BUT WHO IS GOING TO TRY AND STOP ME?
Inna Blokhina is an author, director, and producer. She was born in Dresden, Germany, and graduated from the University of TV and Radio Journalism in 2005. Upon graduation she was affiliated with major Russian broadcasting TV channels (Channel One, NTV, Muztv) and then started her own production company, Inwaves Production , to fulfill her dream of shooting her own documentaries. In 2012, she completed her first feature film ON THE WAVE. It was the first full-length documentary about surfing in the history of Russia, with the participation of surfing legend Kelly Slater. The film received accolades from film festivals all over the world and was distributed in more than 35 countries. After this success, she began filming SHE IS THE OCEAN, inspired by an Indonesian legend that the ocean has feminine roots and that people named the ocean as SHE. SHE IS THE OCEAN is a film about life, about the ocean, and about the fate of women. It has won eight prestigious film awards since its completion.
Born to a local Balinese woman and underground surfer hero Bruce Hansel, Cinta Hansel has surfed against the odds since birth. Her mother long gone, now the daughter of a dedicated, aging expat single father, Cinta dreams of a championship— a championship that her father was never quite able to achieve. Her father Bruce was a member of the notorious “Pipeline Underground,” a group of American surfers who worked their way into the most dangerous line-up in the world: the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii; a tremendous, deadly wave, with all the malevolent power of the ocean can possess. Cinta, knowing her father was never able to reach his goal of slaying this giant, has taken it on herself as her goal in life. She will master this wave— for herself and her father. This heroic mission is simply an extension of her nickname itself: Cinta, the Balinese word for love.
It is all in Coco Ho’s middle name: Hapaikekoa, Hawaiian for “carrier of strength.” Since riding her first wave at seven years old, this has been her code. It has had to be. Coco was born half Hawaiian, but blond and white, to Polynesian surfing royalty. Her father, Michael Ho, is a legend in the pantheon of modern surfing— one of the most accomplished surfers in history, considered a king of the sport. Her uncle, Derek Ho, is a world champion, winning his mantle against impossible odds in the heaviest wave in the world, Hawaii’s pride. Her older brother, Mason Ho, is a prodigy for the new era of Hawaiian surfing and headed for the stars. Yet remarkably, young Coco Ho refused to be intimidated by one of the most respected legacies in the sport. Instead, she decided to become it. By eight years old, a fully sponsored professional, by seventeen winning a place on the international pro tour, by eighteen voted rookie of the year, by twenty years old voted the second most popular female surfer in the world. And today she stands atop the heap of the competition, holding third place in the world rankings with a solid chance to take it all and join her family of Hawaiian World Champions. Behind her astonishing success, however, is a rocky family background of break-ups and divorce and a single father upbringing. Nevertheless, Coco has somehow retained a great joy in her life, her smile lighting up a room, her surfing exuberant and celebratory. Despite the wounded spirit deep within, her heart burns with the fire of life. A life of positivity, of hope, of individuality, and inspiration for her legion of young followers. Coco Ho, in 23 short years, has become more than a professional surfer, she has become the very symbol of what a professional surfer should be, male or female. Envied, loved, and encouraged, Coco, is a streaming meteor of talent and spirit, whose place in the history books has yet to be written, but whose impact will undoubtedly never be forgotten.
“The spellcaster of sharks”— that’s what they call Ocean Ramsey, the 31-year-old young woman from Hawaii. A scientist, marine biologist, and oceanic defender, Ocean has dedicated her life to studying and saving sharks. She has not only ventured out of a cage and swam with a big white shark, proving that the sharks are not a “killer-machines,” but she has also created her own unique system and platform, OneOceanDiving, where any ordinary person can swim with sharks in a natural environment. She opens up a new world for people, where the image of sharks as “killer machines,” created by movies like Jaws, collapses within a second spent around sharks. Ocean Ramsey teaches people to respect and understand the behavior of these amazing creatures that appeared on earth 250 million years ago.
“For those three seconds when I’m free-falling, I’m in my own world.” When a single false move can cost your life, when time is slowing down and you are feeling a moment of truth, that is 100% concentration. That is her world. The world of Anna Bader. Anna is one of the most courageous female high divers and a 6-time European Champion in cliff diving. Gymnastics was her first passion, and that’s what eventually led her to a springboard at age 13. Wanting to combine her love of gymnastics and water, she thought doing acrobats into a pool was the ideal sport for her. Soon enough, she started participating in competitive diving and continued on this path—making the German national team along the way—for the next seven years. In 2006, Anna participated for the first time in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series in Switzerland. And in 2008, she completed her highest dive from 24.5 meters in Polignano, Italy. Today, Anna is a worldwide star and the face of cliff diving. But still, she always prefers to listen to her own heart and to be in her own world.
“If I do things, I do because I feel it. I would never jump off the cliff, because somebody says ‘Go! Go! Jump!’ No! I jump because I feel it, because I want. And sometimes actually I don’t feel it, and I go back. I think this is important always listen to your inner voice, and to not get lost in what people expect from you.”
Andrea Moller was born on the small island of IIhabela, Brazil. Her unconditional love for the ocean developed very quickly during her early childhood, and later on in life she followed her dreams and made the island of Maui her home. In 2005 Andrea started her stand up paddle boarding (SUP) career, competing on a men’s team crossing the Kawaii Channel. After that experience, she joined the first women’s SUP surfing team and won several awards for long distances races. Andrea never rested on her laurels however, and today she holds the world record of prizes in SUP, surfing, and canoeing. She has also received titles for surfing Jaws—one of the biggest waves on the planet. For 36 years she has been a real pioneer and world-class professional athlete in water sports, even becoming the first female lifeguard to ride a jet ski in difficult conditions.
As if she is the personification of power, Andrea does everything at the highest level. Despite her career as a professional paramedic, she finds time every day to devote herself completely to the ocean. Only there is this strong spirit where she feels truly alive. Another passion for Andrea is her love for whales—a love they seem to respond to and return. In a single voyage between the islands, Andrea accompanies these giant guardians of the oceans.
Keana Kennelly, WSL Women’s Big Wave World Champion was born and raised in the beautiful Hawaiian islands, Keala is one of the best female surfers in the world and arguably the best female big wave surfer on the planet. After a successful career on WSL World Championship Tour finishing runner up to the World Title in 2003. She left the WCT tour in 2007 to star as a season regular on HBO tv drama series John From Cincinnati. After the show’s conclusion, Keala instead of returning to the WCT competition circuit decided to chase her passion for surfing big waves. Keala helped establish a Women’s Big Wave Tour and was part of a committee that was responsible for getting women included in the Titans of Mavericks Big Wave Event and winning the fight for equal pay in surfing in 2018. A true pioneer Keala’s groundbreaking performances in some of the heaviest waves in the world have shattered glass ceilings in her sport. She continues to challenge people’s perceptions of what a woman is capable of in the water and break through the gender barrier by doing things that no one ever believed was possible for a female. On land, Keala has another career as an international DJ playing events all over the world. She has also had acting roles on the popular film Blue Crush and HBO’s John From Cincinnati. She has been in numerous award-winning Documentaries including She is the Ocean and Out in the Lineup (a film about LGBT Surfers). Keala is a role model for women and a crusader for LGBT rights and equality in women’s sports. In 2016, she won the Pure Scot Barrel of the Year Award at the XXL Big Wave Awards for getting barreled at Teahupoo, Tahiti. This award makes her the first woman to win in any open-gender category. Later that same year, she was nominated for an ESPY Award. At the end of 2016, Kennelly made history once again by becoming the first woman ever invited to the prestigious Eddie Aikau Big Wave Event.
Rose Molina, a champion of the depths. As a professional dancer and yoga teacher, once a darling of the European dance community, Rose walked away from the egotistical fame and hollow confines of live dance performance to become a “Child of the Sea” – a freediver. Combining her commitment, discipline, and understanding of the perfect moment, she translated her artistic experience from the stage to the deepest depths of human survival. So beautiful and at ease in these deadly depths, Rose has been nicknamed “La Sirena,” one of the mythical sirens of Homer’s odyssey. Through freediving, she has found a spiritual life, a meditation and a deep relationship with the primordial mass of our origin. In her airless world she finds the quiet as profound as outerspace… and her re-entry is not down, but up… back up into our atmosphere of air, returning with the same sense of discovery and wonder that only astronauts have ever imagined.
Every time Jeannie Chesser looks into a wave she hopes to see the face of her son, Todd Chesser, again. Todd was a professional surfer who died in 1997 while surfing. This was the worst tragedy of Jeannie’s life. After the deaths of her husband and son, Jeannie felt alone, but her friends always supported her.
Jeannie’s family moved to Hawaii when she was young and from youth, she dedicated her life to surfing— the trophies and medals in her home were countless.
Three years ago, Jeannie discovered she had cancer. Her beloved people and ocean never left her though; in fact, their unconditional support and love were crucial for her survival. During chemotherapy she tried to gather the strength to still go out in the ocean. After one session, Jeannie came back to the shore and fell in the sand and could not get up. “The ocean can take a life and can give it back,” says Jeannie.
Jeannie never gives up, however, defeating cancer and continuing surfing today.
Chesser painted surfboards for the film In God’s Hands in 1997, which opened the path to infinite creativity for her. At the moment, she draws wonderful paintings and makes artistic jewelry from shells. Jeannie claims she owes it to the ocean for her boundless energy and unique light. She has become a legend and the epitome of surfing. Each surfer of Waikiki considers it a matter of honor to wish good waves for Jeannie before morning surf.
Sylvia Earle is a world-famous oceanographer, researcher, book author, lecturer, expedition leader, and arguably the most influential expert in oceanology of our time.
During her career, Dr. Earle has spent more than seven thousand hours underwater and has organized more than 100 marine expeditions. She led the first team of female aquanauts in the Tektite project in 1970 and set the record for a single 1000-meter dive. Sylvia Earle has been a member of the National Geographic Society since 1998. She is also the first woman to become the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.
Today, 65 years after her first dive, Dr. Earle continues to actively study and protect the ocean. She was named the first “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine. She has organized more than 100 marine expeditions, including National Geographic expeditions, received more than 200 national awards, founded the Mission Blue SEA Alliance, and was the first one to submerge to a depth of 1000 meters. In the scientific world, this amazing woman was granted the title of “Your Deepness.”
“I really hope for your help in protecting the World Ocean from each one of you! Remember, the health of the ocean is the health of each one of us!” says Sylvia Earle.