Film Review: Between Land and Sea

The sea has long proved an obsession for man. Writers, poets and musicians have drawn inspiration from, and been guided by, their relationship with bodies of water for centuries. Some are on a quest to tame it. Others just want to bask in its omnipotence. There are those though who wish to ride it. Surfers are infected with an addiction to test themselves against the biggest waves. To master them. It’s a sport that naturally makes you think of California or Australia, but in Ross Whitaker’s new documentary, the focus is on Ireland.

Between Land and Sea focusses on Lahinch in West Clare. Beginning at New Year, Whitaker charts a year in the life of the sleepy coastal town in Liscannor Bay. At the mercy of the fierce Atlantic Ocean, since the turn of the century it has been a beacon for those wishing to tackle the big waves. Surfing plays an integral role in the local economy. However, given the nature of the local weather, it can be a struggle to make a living.

Between Land and Sea is a slight but compelling portrait of a seaside community and of people drawn by the call of the surf. Whitaker follows the lives of a few of the residents, trying to eke out an existence in an unpredictable and hostile environment. Whether that’s as a professional surfer, instructor or simply trying to be self-sufficient in the face of the elements. West Clare has a beautifully rugged coastline and Between Land and Sea is part study, part marketing initiative, of those whose hearts belong to the ocean.

Between Land and Sea screens at Bertha Dochouse on 29th March.

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