Heart of The Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai

"Heart of the Sea" is a portrait of Rell "Kapolioka'ehukai" Sunn, who died in January 1998 of breast cancer at the age of 47.

Known worldwide as a pioneer of women's professional surfing, at home in Hawaii, Rell Sunn achieved the stature of an icon - not only for her physical power, grace, and luminous beauty but for her leadership in a community that loved her as much as she loved it.

The movie traces Rell's remarkable personal and public life, interweaving her last interview in 1997 - two months before her death - with breathtaking surfing footage, archival news footage, home videos, and interviews with her daughter, friends, fellow surfers, doctors, and others in the community whose lives were changed by the way Rell chose to live hers.

Although cancer metastasized and was declared terminal during her 15-year battle with the disease, Rell never let her cancer keep her from her love of surfing.

"Heart of the Sea" is poignant testimony to one woman's radiant spirit that lives on in Makaha, throughout the Islands, and in all who were touched by the life of Rell Sunn.

Producer Charlotte Lagarde describes a magical filmmaking moment in Hawaii:

"During one of our visits to Makaha, [director] Lisa Denker and I went to the blowhole where Rell's ashes had been released."

"It was in the summer, and the water was flat and crystal clear - perfect diving conditions."

"One could see 40 feet below. I put my snorkel on and went for a dive."

"I went to the blowhole and saw a rock in the shape of a heart lying on the sand collected in that beautiful cave."

"I later learned that kids and adults come there to release treasures for Rell."

"As I was looking around, a couple of turtles swam by me. I went back up for air and looked down again. A baby turtle was coming up toward me."

"I kept still, fascinated by her grace and beauty. She came closer to me, a little bit closer, so close that my eyes filled up with tears."

"She almost touched my snorkel with her head and swam away. We were going through a difficult time with the film."

"I felt like Rell had just come up for a visit: 'It's all right, you're doing good, just keep at it' - a magical moment in the making of this film."