Manhattan is the antithesis of a surf environment. For a wave-rider standing at the bottom of a chasm of steel, concrete, and glass—in the center of one of the most densely populated places on Earth—the idea that there's a world filled with wind, waves, and tide is an abstract one at best. But this weekend, more than 2,500 surfers descended on Tribeca Cinemas to view reminders of that world. Flashing across a giant screen, 25 surf films played at the first annual New York Surf Film Festival in downtown Manhattan for a capacity crowd.

New York Surf Film Festival co-founder, Tyler Breuer, who owns and operates a surf shop on Long Island, said the turnout exceeded his expectations. "We sold out every show," he said. "We had a few filmmakers from California, Hawaii, and Australia fly out. Plus, we had guys from all over the area show up—the old-school guys from Long Beach, guys from Jersey, guys from Eastern LI. It was a real good mix of people."

Panel discussions and screenings ran through the weekend and attendees were treated to Q&A sessions with the likes of Big Wednesday's John Milius (who made a side trip to Katz's Deli afterward for their famous pastrami on rye) and Archy's director Bill Ballard. The Rocks, a film about the surf scene in Rockaway, which was directed by NY surfer Mark Temme, took home the Viewer's Choice Award; it was selected from an array of films that ran including Out There, Sliding Liberia, Archy, Bustin' Down the Door, and Between the Lines.

As the event wound down, Hurricane Kyle delivered pumping surf to the area. With images from around the world fresh in their brains, those still on their feet in the wake of the after-party had plenty of reason to get out of Manhattan and sample the now not-so-abstract distractions waiting beyond the city.