I have to admit something—despite being a woman that loves surfing and watches the WSL events with great interest, I very rarely watch any of the women’s events. There is no particular reason for it, I just somehow almost never do. Occasionally I watch summaries of the competitions on the WSL Instagram page if they show up on my feed but I never specifically look for them. I know some of the more successful female surfers’ names, but that’s it. Yet, while the world was in lockdown because of COVID-19 and no surfing was going on, I stumbled upon the information that competitive surfer Carissa Moore was premiering her film RISS (directed by Peter Hamblin). Even though I hardly knew anything about Carissa, aside from her having won some world titles in the past, I thought I’d watch it. The trailer looked enticing enough but I didn’t have any expectations. I was in for a wild ride.
There are almost too many images coming at the viewer within the 40-minute duration—RISS is a lot to take in—but the film is primarily filled with love and energy, which seems to be the perfect description for Carissa Moore herself.
RISS is not a film for anyone that thinks surf films are filled with calm images of waves and few words, no, RISS is fun, intense, cute, personal, and powerful. In three parts, the story of Carissa Moore is narrated, with a focus on the 2019 world title race. It starts with her wanting to follow her dream of becoming a professional surfer and telling the reality of what it is like being on tour. As the film reveals, being authentic is equally important to Carissa, just like making time for others and being surrounded and supported by her friends and family.
Visually, we get to see childhood photos of Carissa, animated collage-like images, slow-motions, quick transitions, and snapshots of surfing events, and lots of happy dancing in between. There are almost too many images coming at the viewer within the 40-minute duration—RISS is a lot to take in—but the film is primarily filled with love and energy, which seems to be the perfect description for Carissa Moore herself.