"Surf Nation" Film Poster with laurels. A young boy on a surf board in the ocean.
"Surf Nation" Film Poster with laurels. A young boy on a surf board in the ocean.
As China trains its first generation of Olympic surfers, two promising young athletes - Alex and Lolo - navigate adolescence, freedom and their love of the sport


Regular price $129.00


Official Selection - Mountainfilm Festival 2023 | Official Selection - Newport Beach Film Festival 2023 Audience Award - Santa Cruz Film Festival Official Selection - Portland Film Festival

Coming-of-age in China • Youth & Independence Surfing • Olympics • National Surf Team • Young Women Empowerment • Love of Sports

Date of Completion: 2022 | Run Time: 88 minutes​​ | Language: English & Chinese with subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Directors: Jessica Q. Chen & Jeremiah M. Bogert Jr.Producers: Diane Quon & Nevo Shinaar

With unprecedented access, SURF NATION is a feature-length observational documentary that tells a story beginning in Hainan, China’s southernmost province where hundreds of athletes as young as 9-years-old train as part of the Chinese National Surf team. These young recruits have left their families around the country and are paid to become surfers with Olympic aspirations. Shot in a tropical paradise with miles of empty beaches, aspiring athletes and their international coaches live in an old hotel that has become the hub of surfing in China. Over a period of two years, we follow two of China’s top surfers, Alex, 17, who dreams of competing at the highest levels of pro surfing but has contempt for training, and Lolo, 22, who rejects a traditional life for a Chinese woman and surfs despite her parents’ disapproval. We follow them as they train with the team, compete - and most of all, discover what they want their lives to be.

Video Librarian | Reviewed by J. Zimmerman
"It is a beautifully shot and poignant documentary about a fascinating subculture just being created in China [...] Highly Recommended."

Jessica Q. Chen is a Chinese American filmmaker and journalist for the L.A. Times. Her work explores stories and change around women’s issues, youth culture and sports.
In 2022, Chen directed her first feature-length documentary, SURF NATION, which documents the beginnings of China’s surf culture through the Chinese Olympic surf team. It premiered at the 2022 Mountainfilm Festival and won the Santa Cruz Film Festival Audience Award.

She was associate producer for a National Geographic feature-length documentary and was awarded the Aldred I. duPont-Columbia Award for her work. The film, “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS,” premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. She has a master’s degree in investigative reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in biology from UC Irvine.

JEREMIAH M. BOGERT JR. (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) is currently a photo editor at The New York Times and has more than 25 years of experience producing award-winning visual stories. He was the photo assignments editor at The New York Times during the 9/11 terrorist attacks for which the paper won two Pulitzer Prizes in photography. While at the Los Angeles Times, he edited a story on victims of gang violence which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 and was part of the team awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for coverage of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino. Additionally, at the Los Angeles Times, he produced several short documentaries, including CHASING THE SWELL, a 2012 film about big wave surfing. He received his BA in philosophy from Yale University and his MA in journalism from the University of Missouri.