The 11th annual version of the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival ended last Sunday – the festival was a smashing success with exceptional ocean-related films and record attendance.
46 films were screened from 17 countries with lengths of from 2 minutes to 75 minutes. Subject matter included sea creatures, birds, sand, and man. Filmmakers’ themes included human traditions and behavioral dimensions, sport, invasive species, rising waters, sinking lands, science, and other aspects of the marine environment. The five animated films screened, none over 6 minutes, were more than any previous festival.
Everyone’s tastes are different, and every filmmaker has made a consuming effort to produce his/her film with little promise of monetary reward, so I’ve always refrained from naming “favorites” or “best” of anything. That having been said, here is a sampling of some of the films screened that I found agreeable with my preferences, along with links to the film or its trailer:
|A Day in the Life of Lolita (9 minutes)||Oldest captive killer whale is featured along with a sympathetic scientist|
|Can’t Stop the Water (34)||In Louisiana, a community is losing its land as the waters rise|
|Changing Seas – Alien Invaders (27)||Intelligent film on studying an invader with a jujitsu-like ending|
|Defeating Oceans Seven (52)||Compelling portrait of a very determined marathon swimmer|
|Drole D’Histoire (A Strange Story) (5)||Precise, artistic, suspenseful film featuring a crafty predator; in the spirit of Jean Painleve|
|Extinction Soup (58)||Multithreaded story centered on shark finning|
|Great White Encounter: The Scott Stephens Story (30)||Exceptional recounting of a shark attack|
|Haenyeo: Women of the Sea (12)||Elderly Korean women carry on a tradition of free diving|
|Sand Wars (75)||Very well done piece on the rapidly growing sand extraction industry|
|The Sunnydale Kids (4)||Kids from the projects having fun in the surf|
|The Trickster (2)||Animated, humorous short with seniors in the lineup|
|Tracking Alaska’s Godwits (20)||Scientists working to discover the birds’ flight path for their annual 3 leg, 18,000 mile trek around the Pacific.|
|Well Fished (20)||A talented first time filmmaker offers a sketch of 2 girlfriends who fish|
In addition to the 11 full film programs, the festival included special, tailored screenings for middle school students – thousands attended these programs.
In conjunction with the festival, a competition was held for student film creations of 5 minutes or less. Over 40 entries were received, and the top 10 entries, as determined by a 5 person panel and a rigorous judging process, were screened in the Saturday morning program. These films were truly original and engaging, and the many producers and actors in attendance made it a most festive morning.
A sampling of returning festival attendees, some of whom, along with the author, have attended all 11 festivals, seemed to confirm my belief that this was the best SF Int’l Ocean Film Festival yet.