Skip to main content

Detailed Schedule & Venues Announced for 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival

media contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. (415) 676-7007 /

Detailed Schedule & Venues Announced for 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival
March 8 -– 11, 2018

Screenings in San Francisco at Fort Mason & Roxie and at Marin’s Lark Theatre

9 February 2018 – San Francisco, CA: “We all came from the sea. All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean,” famously said President John F. Kennedy. “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.” From March 8 – 11, the San Francisco-based 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival  ( puts from “when we came” on the big screen in San Francisco and Marin representing 143 countries, four world premieres, two United States premieres and two West Coast premieres. The full schedule, including venue and times, follows.

“This year, we bridge the Bay with ocean-loving films,” said Ana Blanco, Executive Director for the International Ocean Film Festival. “Without exaggeration, it is our most ambitious, and diverse, festival ever.”

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 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, Festival International du Film Maritime, which has continued to draw large audiences for more than 40 years. The International Ocean Film Festival is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit.

Sponsors for the 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival include National Marine Sanctuaries, the Canadian Consulate of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, MINI Cooper, SSA , Port of San Francisco, Alcatraz Cruises, San Francisco Magazine, and Hotel Zephyr, Official Hotel Sponsor for the Festival.

15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival Complete Listings

Cowell Theater 2 Marina Blvd. SF

PROGRAM 1 – Thursday, March 8 at 4pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

She is the Ocean (Russia), Inessa Blokhina, 101 min.

Nine extraordinary women from all over the world — scientists, activists, surfers, divers —  share one thing in common: a deep love for the ocean. Their lives are shaped by and around the ocean which is their home, source of life, and the teacher they revere and worship.

PROGRAM 2 – Opening Night Party – Thursday, March 8 at 8pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Stars (USA), Han Zhang, 5 min.

A grandfather and his grandson sell stars on the street in a seaside town. One night their supply runs out, and the grandson embarks on a journey to fish for more stars.

Kim Swims (USA), Kate Webber, 75 min.

Kim Chambers was the first woman (and one of only four people) to swim solo the 26 miles between the Farrallon Islands and San Francisco. This feat is the culmination — so far —  of Kim’s life story, from growing up on a sheep farm in New Zealand to working in the Bay Area tech industry and experiencing a life-changing accident. Kim’s story will inspire and perhaps challenge the viewer to consider the potential in each of us.

PROGRAM 3 – Friday, March 9 at 1pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Melting Stars (Canada), Kate Green, 15 min.

This film unravels the mystery behind one of the most catastrophic species die-offs in recorded history –– the sea star wasting syndrome that started in 2013. Find out why the sea stars have died, what factors led to the epidemic, and the effects of the die-off on intertidal ecosystems from Alaska to Mexico.

The Hundred-Year-Old Whale (Canada), Tony Wosk, 15 min.

“Granny,” the centenarian killer whale (orca) matriarch of Puget Sound, has survived capture, starvation, bullets, and even toxic pollutants. She nurtured her descendants, and shared her knowledge, gathered over a lifetime, with the remnants of her critically endangered Southern Resident family. They need salmon to live, but it is we who hold the key that will grant or deny them they healthy ocean they deserve.

BLUE (UK) Sarah Beard, 76 min

BLUE is a feature documentary film charting the drastic decline in the health of our oceans. With more than half of all marine life lost and the expansion of the industrialization of the seas, the film sets out the challenges we are facing and the opportunities for positive change.  Filmed on location in Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Philippines and Indonesia BLUE changes the way we think about our liquid world and inspires the audience to action.

PROGRAM 4 – Friday, March 9 at 4pm – Kiel, Germany (CineMare) Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Nonoy and the Sea Monster (Austria), Florian Kozak, 5 min

When his parents talk of the sea monster that is wiping out the fish they need for survival, Nonoy, their young and imaginative son, creates a weapon whose magic powers will take care of the beast for good.  Go get him, Nonoy!

The Amazing Lifecycle of the European Eel (UK), Sofia Castello y Tickell 4 min

A delightful stop motion animation featuring the European eel’s life cycle and unusal theories behind it. Did you know that the Romans kept them as pets and adorned them with jewelry? The oldest known European eel lived to be over 100 years old. Nowadays they swim to the Sargasso Sea to complete their life cycles.

Bon Voyage (Switzerland), Marc Wilkins, 21 min

A couple’s pleasant Mediterranean sailing trip is thrown into tension-filled turmoil by an encounter with refugees desperate to escape their violence-torn North African homelands.  In just 20 minutes, this powerful film puts us in the middle of a moral quandary, not unlike some of our own that demand life and death choices.

Lionfish – New Pirates of the Caribbean (Germany), Ulf Marquardt, 52 min

The extraordinary lionfish festooned with numerous and strange appendages has long been a highlight for snorkelers and scuba divers in the Pacific Ocean where it has its place in the piscine pecking order. After it was thoughtlessly introduced into the Caribbean and the Atlantic, however, the lionfish took advantage of the lack of predators and its population skyrocketed. This is one fish you need have no compunction about eating.

PROGRAM 5 – Friday, March 9 at 7pm – Surfing Block Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Cuban Wave Riders (USA), Liz Magee, Taylor McNulty, 20 min

“When I caught that first wave” the Cuban surfer says, “it was…like medicine for the soul.”  Any stoked surfer would say amen to that, but for this film’s Cuban surfers, locating that medicine often means long trips on bumpy roads and bruising walks across rocky beaches.  Right now, there are only about 80 surfers in Cuba.  More are welcome, the surfers say, “but not too many.”

Reefs at Risk (USA), Malina Fagan, 11 min

Something else to worry about. The health of reefs near Hawaii started to decline around 1985, that was about the same time the tourist industry in the islands exploded. Any connection? All those visitors are lathered in sunscreen that often includes the chemical oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor, lethal to coral—and fish, and dolphins (and maybe you). Who knew?

The Agave Gun (USA), Ross Haines, 10 min

Legendary surfboard shaper Gary Linden continues to hone his skills even after 50 years into his career. His board materials include agave plants, the use of which requires masterful skills and a lot of patience. Alex Gray, a big wave surfer, inspires Gary to make an “agave gun” (big wave surfboard) and they go on a spiritual journey together.

The Big Wave Project (Australia), Tim Bonython, 50 min

If surfers are considered a tribe, then big wave surfers are tribal gods. For five years Australian filmmaker Tim Bonython follows legendary surfers to legendary breaks and some unknown gargantuan tow-in monsters. He tracks storms and swells across the planet to find and surf the gnarliest, most insurmountable mountains of ocean. Big gun surfers including Jamie Mitchell, Aaron Gold, Ryan Hipwood, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Billy Kemper, and Bay Area legend Mark Healey survive the impossible and develop a brotherhood of the Big Wave.

PROGRAM 6 – Saturday, March 10 at 10am Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Art for a Sea Change (USA), John Quigley, 4 min

Listen, Unite, Protect, Save Our Seas. Starting in San Francisco, twenty years ago, over a hundred thousand youth from California to China have connected with the sea – cleaning beaches and sending ocean messages scribed in the sand with their own bodies.

A Herring Opera (USA), Tessa Schmidt, 27 min

Stylistically unique, this film portrays the spring herring fishing season in Sitka, Alaska. Presented as an “opera’ in several acts, it presents the drama between commercial fishing operations and the local fishermen. Interwoven in the story are details of life in a small Alaskan town and the beauty of the spawning herring.

Chiripajas (Russia/Spain), Olga Poliektova, Jaume Quiles, 2 min

This film tells the big adventure of one small baby turtle. Lost and trapped in ocean pollution, he strives to reach the ocean and search for his family. A beach cleanup saves the day!

Irreparable Harm (USA), Colin Arisman, 20 min

In Alaska, a Tlingit settlement must abandon traditional foods, and perhaps their homes.  A silver mine’s mercury-and lead-tainted discharge pours into Knight Inlet in vast quantities, poisoning marine life the Tlingit depends on. Faced with blatant lies, “disappeared” studies, and industry stonewalling, the state turns a blind eye. But natives and scientists push back: “If you call out to the Earth, Earth can hear you.”

Straws (USA), Linda Booker, 33 min

It is estimated that each day in the U.S. alone up to 500 million plastic straws are used once and thrown away. Sound like a problem for the environment? This look at the history of straws and their impact on the environment will make you reconsider how you order your next drink.

Return of the Harbor Porpoises (USA), Jim Sugar, 10 min

In the late 1930s, San Francisco Bay was dying. Sewage, industrial waste, and military preparations for World War II sounded a death knell for its marine life. The shy, diminutive porpoises that lived here disappeared. Then, activists and agencies decided to heal the bay, and 65 years later, biologists documented the porpoises’ lusty return. This film is a song of homecoming, of hope.

PROGRAM 7 – Saturday, March 10 at 1pm – Shark Program Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Shark Wedding PSA (USA), Andrew Wegst, 1 min

When millions of sharks have ended up as the featured dish in soup at prestigious events, perhaps soon they will become the guest of honor.

Dedicate: Diving Free (Norway), Shams, 8 min

A chemical engineer turned free-diving photographer, Jacques de Vos has pursued his love for orcas since childhood. He shares the magic and wonder of being in the water and interacting with humpback whales and orcas off the coast of Norway.

Seeking Sanctuary (UK), Nick Jones, 11min

Shark researcher Ornella Weideli‘s laboratory is the remote, uninhabited St. Joseph’s atoll in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. It has become a sanctuary for a wide diversity of wildlife, including baby sharks whose primary predators in the shallow lagoon are their cousins.

The Mystery of the Gnaraloo Sea Turtles (Australia), Dof Dickinson, 24 min

See stunning underwater footage that tracks the mysterious journey of the Gnaraloo Loggerhead turtles in Western Australia. Scientists attached satellite trackers and underwater cameras to the backs of female turtles for the first time. Dive in and learn about life after they leave nesting beaches.

Islands From Mexico: Revillagigedo Archipelago (Mexico), Nadia Rojas, 49 min

The gem of the Mexican Pacific Ocean, this remote archipelago hosts hammerhead sharks, humpback whales and some of the best diving in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Brought to light by dive ecotourism, this Mexican Galapagos has also become the target of tuna fishers and shark finners. A team of Mexican biologists explore and study this sub-tropical biodiversity and help establish the largest no fishing marine reserve off North America.

PROGRAM 8 – Saturday, March 10 at 4pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

68 Voices (Mexico), Nadia Rojas, 1 min

This is a story of the cosmogony of the Seri people in northern Mexico. All the animals in the sea dived down to bring sand up from the depths of the ocean, but only the largest sea turtle that ever lived – the Caguama – succeeded. Frim that sand the Earth was created.

These Fish Are All About Sex on the Beach (USA), Joshua Cassidy, 4 min

Shortly after a new full moon and high tides, the California grunion come out of the sea and onto the beach for an unusual mass mating tryst. The resulting offspring must find their way to the sea and it is not easy.

Reefs at Risk (USA), Malina Fagan, 11 min

Something else to worry about. The health of reefs near Hawaii started to decline around 1985, that was about the same time the tourist industry in the islands exploded. Any connection? All those visitors are lathered in sunscreen that often includes the chemical oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor, lethal to coral—and fish, and dolphins (and maybe you). Who knew?

Adaptation Bangladesh: Sea Level Rise (USA), Justin DeShields, 12 min

Glacial waters from northern mountains and the warming waters of the Bay of Bengal are expected, by 2050, to force 16 million Bangladeshi from their homes.  So these resourceful people have adapted: schools are on boats with rooftop solar panels to power computers; thriving vegetable gardens float on mats of water hyacinth; self-sufficient floating villages are being planned.  Such adaptations offer models to the many others who will one day share their plight.

Touched by the Ocean (Latvia), Laura Rožkalne-Ozola & Sandijs Semjonovs, 68 min

We are familiar with the trials of the laid-back Anglo Saxons who endeavor to cross wide expanses of water in puny vessels. But when two inexperienced Latvians set out to row across the South Atlantic their experiences, even their discomforts, are both intimate and joyful.

PROGRAM 9 – Saturday, March 10 at 7pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

From the Shadows (Spain), Jacques de Vos,15 min

Boats from Tromso, fish In the Norwegian fiords for herring and cod. The wildlife is out too, including whales. The sound of the fishing boats brings in orcas and humpback whales from 10 miles away. Pods come in to catch the fish that escape the nets; some whales are eating the spoils, and others sky hopping to watch the fish brought aboard and anticipate the next fall out. In the water, alongside the whales, day and night, are videographers recording it all.

Oceanic Aliens (USA), Mike Johnson, 6 min

What really lies in the depths of our oceans? How much do we really know about what lives there?  More is known about outer space than our oceans. This short documentary illustrates just one example of a little known class of bioluminescent species and their amazing attributes.

The Islands and the Whales (UK), Andy Maas, 81 min

Denmark’s Faroe Islands are under siege. Heirs to the impacts of overfishing and pollution – their own and other countries – the Faroese find scant fish in the sea, or seabirds on their once-crowded rookeries. Facing ecological, economic and cultural collapse, Faroese proudly cling to at least one tradition: the Grind, in which coves run red with the blood of pilot whales.

PROGRAM 10 – The Student Film Competition, Saturday at 10am  Cowell Theater, Fort Mason – FREE ADMISSSION

Middle School Finalists

Over Fishing: A Danger to Our Oceans, by Suejin, 9th, Alliyah, 11th, Jerrett, 10th, Sumios, 8th, Heirs To Our Oceans, Redwood City, CA

Strawbucks, by Helena Gans, Danielle Karr, Alexandra Chung, Avery Benello, 7th grade, The Hamlin School, San Francisco, CA

I Sea Pollution, Dakota Peebler, 11, Iseko, 12, Carlos, 15, Yarawe, 16, Dilluna, 17, Heirs To Our Oceans, Redwood City, CA.

The Story of a Plastic Bottle, Cambria Bartlett, 8th grade and Coralyne Taylor, 7th grade, Homeschool, La Honda, CA

Superfin, Gabby Goss, 8th grade, Julia Morgan School for Girls, Oakland, CA

Astronaut of the Ocean, Alexander Luce, 7th grade, Escuela Bilingüe Internacional, Emeryville, CA

Polluted, Yen Mao, 8th grade, A.P. Giannini, San Francisco, CA

High School Finalists

1958, Catalina Lane & Annika Jackson, 12th grade, Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley, CA

Enjoy the Process // Thomas Chang, Matthew Cho & Eva Chang, 11th grade, Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA

Haenyeo: Mermaids of Korea, Sehee Park, 10thgrade, Branksome Hall Asia, Jeju, South Korea

Ocean Investments, Brendon Milan-Howells, 10th grade, The Branson School, Ross, CA

Old Reliable, Amia McCombs, 12th grade, Providence High School, Burbank, CA

Cruise Control, Allison Lord, 9th grade, Westminster High School, Westminster, MD

Anchor Outs, Sydney Politzer, 11th grade, Marin Catholic High School, Greenbrae, CA

Vanishing Act, Georgia Lingerfelt, 10th grade, Alpharetta High School, Alpharetta, GA

Freedom, Kuzey Deniz Yılmaz, Efe Dikdaş, Ece Lara Tartar,Efecan Yavuzyılmaz, Cihan Turan, 11th grade, Acarkent Doğa IB School, Turkey

PROGRAM 11 – Sunday, March 11 at 1pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Water, Blood and Spermaceti (USA), Nicholas Dean and Cheryl Dean, 7 min

In the 1950s, Grigory Derviz, in his twenties, went to Russia’s Kiril Islands north of Japan, to join a whaling expedition––a world of rough seas, lots of blood, and spermaceti, a substance found in the head cavities of sperm whales and used in manufactured goods.

Souls of the Vermillion Sea (USA), Matthew Podolsky, 29 min

Beautifully shot in Mexico, this film documents the imminent extinction of an entire species: the vaquita, or Gulf of California porpoise. Drowned in illegal fishing nets intended to capture totaba, an endangered fish – illegally caught for questionable medical purposes –they die needless deaths. An international team now struggles valiantly to pull them back from the brink.

Mexican Fishing Bats (Canada), Meigan Henry, 6 min

Most marine mammals swim, but these tiny winged denizens of caves on the island of Partida in the Sea of Cortez rely on the sea as much as any sea lion. An intrepid young scientist studies these endangered Mexican fishing bats as they flit every night into the desert darkness to fish, attempting to unravel their secrets before they become lost forever.

Fishpeople (USA), Keith Malloy, 49 min

To some, the ocean is a fearsome and dangerous place. But to others, it’s a limitless world of fun, freedom and an opportunity to live life to the full.  This film’s unique cast of characters have dedicated their lives to the sea: from surfers and spear fishers to a long-distance swimmer, a former coal miner and a group of at-risk kids from the streets of San Francisco, together they introduce us to the transformative effects of time spent in the ocean—and of finding fulfillment in the saltwater wilderness that lies just beyond the shore. 

PROGRAM 12 – Sunday, March 11 at 4 pm Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

How Do Pelicans Survive Their Death Defying Dives (USA), Elliott Kennerson 4 min

A few years back, millions of sardines crammed into San Francisco Bay and Aquatic Park Cove.  Brown pelicans, so striking in soaring flight, dove with wings akimbo to scoop them up.  How do these pterodactyl look-alikes survive hitting the water at 45 miles an hour?   They’ve had 30 million years to adapt––bones, feathers, bill, and pouch––as this film explains.

Albatross (USA), Chris Jordan, 97 min

If you only see one film about birds this is the one – a prayer, a love poem and an elegy. Running to take off, a Laysan Albatross can look like Bobo the clown. But once aloft, it becomes the magical essence of soaring flight.  A million breed on Midway Island, where the birds have no natural predators enabling Chris Jordan to film close up their graceful courtship dances and their encouragement to chicks breaking out of their shells.  Jordan also shows us ravenous chicks gulping down plastic mistakenly scooped up by parents on foraging journeys. The horrific fatal effects of this man-made detritus are not easily forgotten.

ROXIE THEATER: 3117 16th Street

PROGRAM 13 – Sunday, March 11 at 1:30 pm – Roxie

Bon Voyage (Switzerland), Marc Wilkins, 21 min

A couple’s pleasant Mediterranean sailing trip is thrown into tension-filled turmoil by an encounter with refugees desperate to escape their violence-torn North African homelands.  In just 20 minutes, this powerful film puts us in the middle of a moral quandary, not unlike some of our own, that demands life and death choices.

Big Pacific (New Zealand), Samantha McKegg and Samantha Young, 53 min

In an ocean that covers one third of the Earth’s surface are many mysteries: the “arribada” in Costa Rica when half a million turtles all converge on the same beach; strange symmetrical patterns in the sand off Japan; the daily migration of the chambered nautilus; the 10-eyed horseshoe crab; and firefly shrimp each with 20,000 eggs. There are even huge stone cities built by ancient, long gone civilizations.

PROGRAM 14 – Sunday, March 11 at 4:30pm- Roxie

One Breath: A Life Without Gravity (UK) Sebastian Solberg, 7 min

Husband and wife free divers Eusebio and Christina Saenz de Santamaria share many adventures underwater. Among them is an attempt to set a new world record for diving depth for two people together: 100 meters. Try holding your breath along with them.

Dive to be Alive, (Germany), Florian Fischer, 5 min

Diving keeps you alive, and you don’t become a zombie in the mind controlled world in which we live in.’ … claims Hayward Coleman, the 70 years old yogi master.

Dedicate: Diving Free (Norway), Shams, 8 min

A chemical engineer turned free-diving photographer, Jacques de Vos has pursued his love for orcas since childhood. He shares the magic and wonder of being in the water and interacting with humpback whales and orcas off the coast of Norway.

Alice in Borneo’s Wonderland, (USA), David McGuire 12 min

Alice, a sixteen-year-old aspiring biologist, learns to SCUBA dive off the coast of Malaysian Borneo and discovers a wondrous world.  With the help of Shark Steward instructors she learns to respect the key predators of that astonishing world––the sharks, endangered worldwide because of shark finning.  Her next step is to share with other students her new knowledge about the importance of protecting the oceans.

Patterns of the Ocean (Germany), Claudia Schmitt, 45 min

The eagles of the sea, manta rays are a giant, gentle and graceful kind of flat shark. With a wingspan of 21 feet and weighing well over a ton, these acrobatic denizens are favorites among scuba divers. Now coveted as a dubious traditional medicine, these rays are becoming a substitute for shark fin and are rapidly becoming endangered. A German team of filmmakers tirelessly document the work of scientists and conservationists in Indonesia, working to save these beautiful animals from extinction.

LARK THEATER 549 Magnolia Avenue,  Larkspur

PROGRAM 15 – Sunday, March 11 at 5pm

The Story of Force Blue, (USA) Sara & Bobby Sheehan 43 min

Force Blue is a nonprofit organization that seeks to unite the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of marine resource conservation for the betterment of both.  It’s the story of the six (6) men who comprise Force Blue’s Team One — how each of them has dealt with their own personal struggles to reorient to civilian life after years of combat deployments, and how, together, they are now as a force for change. This new “mission” to heal the planet is giving them a pathway home.