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Review Big vs Small (2020)

Photo by Donald Tong from Pexels

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 Big Vs Small. 

Directed by Minna Dufton, throughout the 76 minutes of projection, the doc 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, Big Vs Small 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. 

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