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DIFF Student Reviews: BIGvsSMALL

Dublin International Film Festival
5 min

As part of our partnership with the Dublin International Film Festival, several Media students were given the opportunity to screen and review films appearing at the festival. Here, two of our students review the documentary BIGvsSMALL, directed by Minna Dufton.

Dipyasuruj Konwar

Waves are big, dreams are big, fear is big and a human being is too timid in comparison.  The journey of Joana Andrade from being a small individual to conquering the big is passionately reflected in the documentary BIGvsSMALL. The maker of the film, Minna Dufton, thematically articulates passion, sportsmanship, conquering the mind to be fearless, gender equality in sports and most importantly two speculative sports, big waves surfing and deep water diving, in the film. To summarise in seventy-six minutes the track on which a pioneer of women’s big waves surfing is made, quotes are very beautifully used.

“You can be small in size but have a big mind.”

The magnificent view of the sea waves and its film representation with excellently utilised camera resources becomes the storyteller with shots where the character Joanna surfs the big waves justifying the title BIGvsSMALL. The sequential establishments created an immense effect on the viewers to be involved in the struggle of the lead in breaking the conservative societal structure being a girl choosing an unusual path of life, coming out of drug abuse and learning from another strong personality as herself Johanna Nordblad and making the passion a kind of meditation. The background score has been edited with expertise. Minna Dufton, being a woman herself, exposes great strength in making the film and fits into the trio of strong women behind the story.  

Dipyasuruj Konwar is pursuing an MA in Journalism and Public Relations. Originally from India, he is a sportsman and an admirer of films.

Felipe Martins

The Portuguese surfer Joana Andrade, known as one of the only surfers to face the dangerous waves in Nazaré, Portugal presents a documentary illustrating her career over the years and the challenges in overcoming fear, past and physical conditions in search of breaking all limits in BIGvsSMALL.

Directed by Minna Dufton, throughout the 76 minutes of projection, the documentary presents in its majority a unique contrast by mixing images of Andrade's past, from her childhood to the age that she found herself in the career through intimate drifting between successes and her regrets with the present reporting her achievements. The language methods are crucial to providing an approach between the audience and Joana. Furthermore, the work highlights how there is still a gap between genders in the sports world, from salaries and the lack of recognition both from sponsors and the media.

During the second half of the feature, the location changes to Finland, where Joana starts practising methods to improve her breathing and dive in the water in case she goes through a situation of life or death with the help of Johanna Nordblad. From thermal pools to the freezing lakes of Finland, the feature expresses an organic interaction between two women learning from each other the challenges of the sport.

It’s also relevant to mention the remarkable work of the cinematographer Sakke Kantosallo that capture mesmerising shots of the coast of Portugal through monuments, buildings and the huge waves that Andrade practices with vibrant colours. In addition, Kantosallo chose a more intimate look when capturing the coldness in Finland, where the protagonist stays most of the time in a cabin near a lake.

With a delightful conclusion, BIGvsSMALL is certainly an intimate portrait of a sportswoman who amid the ups and downs of life found the bravery to overcome her fears and stand out as one of the most influential female surfers nowadays.

Felipe Canto is a Brazilian journalist based in Dublin currently pursuing an MA in Journalism and Public Relations. Back in his country he used to work as an editor for an entertainment website writing reviews and news about cinema. His favourite movies are There Will Be Blood, Persona, Le Samourai and Blade Runner.

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