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20th Anniversary Benefit for International Ocean Film Festival

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20th Anniversary Benefit for International Ocean Film Festival
March 31, 7pm at California Academy of Sciences

Honors Ocean Champions Ashlan & Phillippe Cousteau

Franco Finn of Golden Gate Warriors Fame is Emcee / Auctioneer

Festival Runs April 13 – 16 at San Francisco’s Cowell Theatre Fort Mason
and the Smith Theatre San Rafael 

17 March 2023 —  San Francisco, CA:  Celebrating “20 years of saving the world’s oceans, one film at a time,” San Francisco’s International Ocean Film Festival ( is honoring this year’s “Ocean Champions” at its annual benefit, Friday, March 31 (7pm) at the California Academy of Sciences: Ashlan & Philippe Cousteau.  The evening will feature food, fine wine, a silent auction and a live auction spearheaded by “Warriors Hype Man” Franco Finn.  The evening’s schedule is 5:30pm – 7pm cocktail reception; 7pm-9pm dinner and program; 9pm ‘til 10:30pm music by DJ Bryce. Highlighted during the evening will be previews of the Festival’s upcoming films. Individual tickets are $ 225 and can be purchased at (direct event link: ). Also, sponsorship are available for full tables.

“It’s so good to be back in person” said Ana Blanco, Executive Director for the International Ocean Film Festival. “This year’s event gives us the opportunity to gather, restore and celebrate with ocean loving friends including a change to engage with ocean scientists and filmmaker and directors.”

Award recipient Ashlan Cousteau has an almost two-decade career as a journalist and TV Host. During the first half of her career she was a producer for MSNBC an on camera host and fill-in anchor for Emmy-winning shows E News and Entertainment Tonight. In 2013 she shifted gears to leveraging her experience in media and pop-culture to help new audiences learn about and connect with the ocean. Since then she has co-hosted and produced several programs for Discovery, Travel Channel, and more. She has also become a sought-after speaker and host for everything from the United Nations to the Society of Environmental Journalists to numerous universities. She is also the author of Oceans for Dummies.

Philippe Cousteau has dedicated his life to the conservation and exploration of the ocean. He has hosted/produced over 100 hours of documentaries for CNN, BBC, Discovery and more, including his Emmy-nominated series Awesome Planet.  His most recent work has been in partnership with his wife Ashlan, including a series with Travel Channel. He is also an author of several children’s books and guides for youth. 

In 2005, Philippe founded EarthEcho International based on a simple concept: youth have the power to change the world. At the time there were no organizations focused on fostering and building pathways for youth to become informed and active ocean champions. Today, EarthEcho is a leader in the growing movement of youth-focused ocean advocacy. With the fight to protect and restore our ocean planet reaching critical levels, youth leaders are emerging as powerful change agents, from tackling plastic pollution and species decline to influencing policies. To date EarthEcho International has worked with over 2 million youth in 146 countries. Most recently, EarthEcho launched GenSea, an initiative and digital platform that convenes a global community of young ocean advocates, ages 13-25, and partners connected through networking, learning, and collective action to protect and restore our ocean. Ashlan and Philippe added, ““We are honored to be the recipients of this year’s Ocean Champions Award. As storytellers, authors, and entrepreneurs, everything we do is focused on bringing people closer to the ocean and helping them recognize that the health of the ocean is vital to all life on earth.”

Past recipients of the Ocean Champion Award includelegendary oceanographer and marine activist Dr. Sylvia Earle, Kip Evans, director of Expeditions for Mission Blue, Academy-Award winning director Louie PsihoyosJeff Boehmn, Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center and Swedish environmentalist and climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The 20th annual Festival, April 13 – 16
takes place at San Francisco’s Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason and San Rafael’s Smith Center: 33 films representing 11 countries. Especially anticipated is the Festival’s opening night offering Deep Rising, a Sundance Film Festival winner. This up-to-the-minute tale of geopolitical, scientific, and corporate intrigue that exposes the machinations of a secretive organization empowered to greenlight massive extraction of metals from the deep seafloor that are deemed essential to the electric battery revolution. Other Festival highlights include Collision, an eye opening film about the main cause of death in large whales, and Patrick and the Whale in which stunning underwater footage explores the fascinating nature of the Sperm Whale and its intriguing and complex intelligence and relationship with humanity.

The Festival accepts films of all genres that focus on any of the varied aspects of our big, blue ocean. Subject matter ranges from, but is not limited to, marine wildlife, conservation efforts, ocean environments, coastal cultures, ocean sports and exploration, ocean heroes, and innovative technology designed to help protect the ocean. Films can be documentaries, narratives, shorts, animation, and full-length films from around the world. A number of finalists from the main film festival program will be selected to participate in the world-renowned International Ocean Film Festival Traveling Program. This year’s film categories include Environmental, Marine Sciences/Wildlife, Exploration & Ocean Sports, Coastal Island Culture. Animation, Conservation, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Shorts and Female Directors.

Sponsors for this year’s festival include RingCentral, Jenga Ocean, Hapag Lloyd, SSA Group and the Consul General of Canada in San Francisco. Note: Additional sponsorship opportunities are available through March 1st.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 over 815 films from 40 different countries and featured post-film Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers, special panel discussions with content experts, and the Annual Free Student Education Program. It was the first event of its kind in North America, inspired by the well-established ocean festival in Toulon, France, which has continued to draw large audiences for more than 40 years.

Below is the full list (in alphabetical order by title, followed by director, country of origin and running time) for this year’s 20th Anniversary Festival.

1. And yet, I remain, Rick Wall (South Africa) 8 min

 2. The Arctic Halocline, Amy Lauren (USA) 21 min 

3. Big Waves Guardians, Luke Stirtz (USA) 90 min

4. Blue Carbon, Paul Nicklen (USA) 3 min 

5. Bottle Cap, Marie Hyon & Marco Spier (USA) 5 min 

6. Changing Seas: Vanishing Whales, Alexa Elliott (USA) 27 min 

7. Cold Refuge, Judy Irving (USA) 79 min 

8. Collision, Philip Hamilton (UK) 80 min 

9. Deep Look: Barnacles Go To Unbelievable Lengths To Hook Up, Josh Cassidy (USA) 4 min 

10. Deep Rising, Matthieu Rytz (USA) 98 min 

11. Fishing Into The Future: A San Diego Story, Lindsay Bauman & Andrea Sanchez Davidson (USA) 5 min 

12. Gender Outlaw, a bodysurfing story, Peter Williams (USA) 16 min 

13. The Gift of Bathsheba, Zach Hellmuth (USA) 4 min 

14. Havana Libre, Corey McLean (USA) 85 min 

15. Huff, David Mangum (USA) 7 min 

16. Hypnotise, Ste Everington (Australia) 4 min 

17. The Impossible Wave, Jessica Frankovelgia Johnson & Jay Johnson (USA) 40 min 

18. Inseparable: Ava, Andrew Harrison Brown (USA) 11 min 

19. Mediterranean LIFE UNDER SIEGE, Fred Fougea (France) 91 min 

20. New Boats, Lansana Mansaray (Sierra Leone) 50 min 

21. Patrick and the Whale, Mark Fletcher (Austria) 72 min 

22. Planting Coral Forests, Johann Vorster (Kenya) 27 min 

23. PLSTC, Laen Sanches (France) 2 min 

24. Restoring the Farallon Islands: A Critical Conservation Opportunity, Brandon Schilling (USA) 4 min 

25. Rise of the Clambassador, Alexander Davidowski (USA) 8 min 

26. Robots in the Deep, Leo Richards (UK) 13 min 

27. SAGRES, José Eduardo Zuzarte (Portugal) 44 min 

28. SB2508: A Death Threat to Everglades Restoration, Noah Alexander Miller (USA) 30 min 

29. Seagrass for Sea Change, Whitney Beer-Kerr (Australia) 12 min 

30. The Storm Chaser, Jack Pirie (UK) 7 min 

31. Tangled in the Tides, Henk Ekermans & Barend van der Watt (South Africa) 50 min 

32. Truluck, Matt Cannon & Jake Smallwood (UK) 20 min 

33. Washed Ashore, Ley Heimgartner, Cameron Nielsen (USA) 16 min

The 20th International Ocean Film Festival runs April 13 – 16, 2023 at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. The International Ocean Film Festival is a 501(c) 3 non-profit.