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Riding the Waves of Freedom: A Review of the Documentary Gaza Surf Club

This blog discusses the 2016 documentary "Gaza Surf Club", a poignant tale of personal freedom amidst political conflict, through the lens of young surfers in Gaza.

Keywords: Gaza, Surfing, Documentary, Freedom, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


"Gaza Surf Club" is a compelling documentary directed by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine, released in 2016. The film provides a rare glimpse into the lives of young Palestinians who have found solace in the waves of the Mediterranean, amidst the political turmoil and occupation that has become their daily life. This story of personal freedom against the background of a seemingly inescapable political conflict is as relevant today as it is poignant.


Trapped in what is often referred to as "the world's largest open-air prison", a group of young Palestinians in Gaza carve out a sense of personal freedom through surfing. Despite the constant threat of war and political gridlock, these resilient individuals find their escape and expression in the waves of the Mediterranean.

More film analysis


The documentary takes an observational approach, presenting an intimate portrait of these surfers and their unique subculture within the context of a highly politicized environment. The depth of the subject exploration is commendable, and the presentation style effectively captures the stark contrast between the surfers' passion for their sport and the harsh realities of their living conditions.

Historical and Factual Context:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has resulted in Gaza being under siege, provides the backdrop for this story. The surfers' passion for their sport is a form of peaceful resistance against their circumstances.

Key themes in the film:

  • The power of personal freedom in the face of oppressive circumstances
  • The resilience and spirit of youth
  • The universal appeal and healing power of nature and sport

Film Comparisons:

Unlike other documentaries on iWonder that focus on the political aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Gaza Surf Club" gives a unique perspective by focusing on a group of youths seeking personal freedom through surfing.

Noteworthy Moments:

The surfers' sheer joy and freedom in the water, contrasted with their struggles on land, make for profound and enlightening moments.


The film received a score of 7.2 on IMDB and was nominated for seven awards, indicating strong reception from audiences and critics alike.


"Gaza Surf Club" is an important film that offers a unique perspective on life in Gaza. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the human aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Watch Gaza Surf Club - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
Gaza is a strip of land with a population of 1.7 million citizens, wedged between Israel and Egypt and isolated from the outside world. Gaza’s small surf community an opportunity to seek a small slice of freedom against the depressing reality of an Israeli-controlled three mile marine border.

More film information

IMDB: 7.2
Awards: 7 nominations: Jerusalem Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, Max Ophuls Festival

The young surfers of Gaza who defy their circumstances to pursue their passion.

Gaza, Palestine - specifically its beaches where the surfing takes place.

Links for further exploration

  1. Brief history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
  2. The therapeutic effects of surfing:

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

How does surfing provide an escape for the youth in Gaza?

What are the challenges faced by Gaza's surfing community?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form:

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway - if it was a famous book, as both tell tales of humans finding meaning and resilience in the unforgiving sea.

"Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys - if it was a famous song, as it is a song about the joy and freedom found in surfing.

"The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai - if it was a famous piece of art, as both capture the power and beauty of the sea.

Kelly Slater - if it was a famous celebrity, as a symbol of the surf culture the Gaza surfers aspire to.

Blue - if it was a colour, representing both the sea that provides their escape and the melancholy of their situation.

Reggae - if it was a music style, often associated with resistance and struggle, but also rhythm and life.