Ocean Film Festival Returns With Diverse Offerings

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth," opined legendary author Arthur C. Clarke, "when it is quite clearly ocean."

Photo from Fishpeople (Director, Keith Malloy)

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth,” opined legendary author Arthur C. Clarke, “when it is quite clearly ocean.” For 15 years, the International Ocean Film Festival has been bringing back the focus to the 75 percent of our habitat that is indeed water.


Like a wave-borne United Nations representing 143 countries, four world premieres, two United States premieres and two West Coast premieres, the San Francisco-based International Ocean Film Festival takes place March 8 to 11 at San Francisco’s Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason, with additional screenings at the Roxie and in Marin at the Lark Theatre.


“This year, we bridge the Bay with ocean-loving films. Without exaggeration, it is our most ambitious, and diverse, festival ever,” said Ana Blanco, executive director for the International Ocean Film Festival. “The oceans truly are the tie that binds all life together on earth. In a sense, every film about the oceans is international because of its subject matter. This year, we are proud to present an unprecedented number of premieres, having had a record number of submissions from which to choose. It was not an easy decision.”


Since its launch in 2004, the San Francisco-based International Ocean Film Festival has attracted thousands of spectators of all ages from around the world, including film enthusiasts, sea athletes, educators and environmental supporters. Since then, the festival has presented on average over 50 films annually from 15 different countries and featured post-film Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers, special panel discussions with content experts, and an annual free student education program.


The festival was the first event of its kind in North America. It was inspired by the well-established ocean festival in Toulon, France, Festival International du Film Maritime, which has continued to draw large audiences for more than 40 years.


“Although some would deny it, the threat to our oceans, which means a threat to our planet, is clear,” said Blanco. “For 15 years, independent filmmakers from around the world have brought their talents to bear, and their passion, in showing love and respect for the oceans. There has never been a time more important for those talents and passions to unite on screen for our audiences, and our world.”


The festival features films of all genres–documentaries, narratives, shorts, and animation films of all lengths. Subjects focus on all oceanographic themes, including ocean exploration, wildlife, environmental, conservation, oceanography, seafaring adventures, maritime issues, ocean sports and coastal cultures.


“Our mission is to inspire people to appreciate and care for the ocean by revealing its wonders through the independent lens,” said Blanco, noting that the festival is now recognized as the premier venue in North America for ocean-related films. “Our work is made possible by the spirit, passion and hard work of numerous volunteers and artists dedicated to using film as a medium to increase public awareness of the environmental, social and cultural importance of marine ecosystems and foster a spirit of ocean stewardship.”


One of the highlights of the festival is the popular “Off the Reef” gala fundraiser taking place on Saturday, March 10 at The Pearl in San Francisco. The evening will feature food, fine wine and a silent auction followed with music by DJ Bryce. Highlighted during the evening will be previews of the festival’s upcoming films and remarks by this year’s “Ocean Champion” honoree, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos.


For more information, visit intloceanfilmfest.org.