Glasgow Film Festival Review: BIG vs SMALL

Joana Andrade paddling on a surfboard

Small, but mighty, Joana Linhares de Andrade constantly defies expectations. The pint-sized Portuguese has the heart of a lion and is the only woman from her country to surf the big waves. However, while nothing seems to faze her, she does have one phobia. Along with many other athletes in her field, she shares the fear of drowning. As she prepares for her (literally) biggest challenge yet, Joana must face up to what scares her the most.

Situated on the west coast of Portugal, Nazaré has the biggest waves in the world. Indeed, it’s the place where Garrett McNamara secured the world record by defeating a 100ft kahuna. Joana has long harboured a dream to surf these waves. However, in order to do so, she must work with Finnish free diver Johanna Nordblad in order to face her demons. Minna Dufton’s new documentary BIG vs SMALL charts her journey on the quest for success.

On the face of it, BIG vs SMALL is a rather offbeat portrait of a determined woman. However, like the ‘Tiny Fighter’ herself, it draws its power from concentrating on the bigger picture through focussing on the minutiae. Joana never takes her eyes off the prize, punching well above her diminutive frame to achieve mighty feats. BIG vs SMALL gains its power from this unflinching concentration on an extraordinary resolute warrior.

BIG vs SMALL screens at Glasgow Film Festival.

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