‘Girls Can’t Swim’: A Film for the Summer Season

‘Girls Can’t Swim


Looking for an emotional yet empowering feminist film to watch over the Summer? Learn about the touching stories of young women in a male-dominated sport space? Why not book a ticket to watch the upcoming heart-wrenching documentary ‘Girls Can’t Swim’?!


Directed by award-winning Christopher Nelius and written by Julie-Anne De Ruvo, ‘Girls Can’t Swim’ is a feminist documentary set for release in January 2021, with an inspiring message about defying social expectations and achieving what is rightfully yours. Recounting the days of the 1980s and the 80s World Tour, ‘Girls Can’t Swim’ documents the difficult journeys of veteran female surfers such as Wendy Botha, Pam Burridge, Jodie Cooper, Frieda Zamba, Jolene and Jorja Smith, and Pauline Menzer and many others, on how they overcame degrading labels like ‘bikini models on the waves’ to win championships on the world’s most prestigious surfing stages.


Director Chrisopher Nelius said “I’m incredibly excited to see Girls Can’t Surf have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival – about as far from the Australian beach as you can get. It’s a sports story but so much more and being included in the new Women at Work section is a real recognition of that. It’s a great time to look back on a story that’s never been brought to the screen before but most of all I can’t wait for people to meet these charming characters who really captured my heart. ”


Featuring over 30 years worth of unreleased footage as well as modern interviews with Jodie Cooper, Pam Burridge and Wendy Botha amongst others, ‘Girls Can’t Swim’ will let the women’s voices speak for themselves in their journey towards equal treatment. It will take viewers on a heart-wrenching journey as female surfers in the 1980s conquer social boundaries in the male-dominated field and impress their audience as talented and dedicated surfers.


‘Girls Can’t Swim’ will tell the tale of a band of young female surfers who against all odds, made a name for themselves in the surfing industry as not just a ‘pretty face’, but gifted and hard working athletes. The documentary recounts how these girls achieved grand prizes and overcame the shadows of men, as well as their experiences encountering rampant sexism and gender discrimination.


From the 1980s to now, ‘Girls Can’t SWim’ will feature both past and present footage of the treatment of female surfers during their respective times, and how far the industry has come today in terms of recognising women. With many of today’s female water sport athletes even becoming the face of the biggest global water gear brands, the modern sporting climate is definitely a result of the hard work of women like Pam Burrdieg and Jodie Cooper, who competed and represented their gender during the 20th century.


Today’s female surfers and athletes in particular will find this documentary not only incredibly awe-inspiring, but also a reminder to appreciate their predecessors in the industry. While learning of how the female sporting world has come so far today, the documentary is sure to inspire current and future generations of female athletes to challenge unequal gendered expectations and continue to build the female scene into a force to be reckoned with. To find out  more about the types of water sports and surfing accessories wore during this sport, see options here.


The cast includes: Pam Burridge, Lisa Anderson, Wendy Botha, Jodie Cooper, Rochelle Ballard, Pauline Menczer, Jolene Smith, Jorja Smith Harmon, Nick Carroll, Jamie Brisick, Ian Cairns, Alisa Schwarzstein Cairns, Frieda Zamba


For those who are interested in viewing the documentary as soon as it comes out, ‘Girls Can’t Swim’ will be aired to the public at 2021’s Sydney Film Festival (Summer Season), on the 17th of January. For now, viewers anticipating the film can watch the documentary’s newest trailer here.

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