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Tickets Go on Sale March 15 for 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival

Tickets Go on Sale March 15 for 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival

The Largest Festival in the World  for Ocean-Related Films Takes Place April 15 – May 2 Virtually
With Possible In-Person Component TBA

Deadline for Student Film Competition is March 7

23 February 2021 – San Francisco, CA:  It is said that the sound of waves has a salutary impact on the human condition, and never more have the ocean’s healing embrace been more needed.  Coming off its creatively executed and wildly successful “Virtual Oceans”  annual festival last summer summer, San Francisco’s International Ocean Film Festival is taking the lessons of its COVID-induced creativity into its 18th annual Festival, April 15 – May 2, 2021 in what will be an unprecedented marriage of virtual and in-person events accessed online at  The video trailer for the 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival may be viewed here:

“When the going got COVID, the International Ocean Film Festival got creative,” said Ana Blanco, Executive Director for the Festival. “Like every other arts and cultural organization in the country, if not the world, we were forced to forego our usual in-person programming this year. However, by going virtual, we discovered and engaged a whole new, and broader global audience than we ever thought possible.”

This year’s 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival is marked with 18 days of ocean-focused, independent films. The Festival will screen a record 73 films from 16 countries, including 10 premieres and 14 award-winners.   In addition, the Festival will hosting  lively Q&A panels with film directors, marine scientists, and industry experts, as they discuss the films and share insights into ocean conservation, preservation, and legislation.   

“Also, one of the Festival’s most important components is the Student Film Competition,” says Blanco. “It’s a way for students to tell their stories about the ocean and explore the exciting world of filmmaking.”

The Student Film Competition is open to middle school and high school students (grades 6 through 12) from around the world. Films must be five minutes or less in duration, and touch upon some subject matter regarding the ocean. The deadline for submission is March 7.

According to Blanco, this year’s “Virtual Oceans” online Festival was seen by a record breaking 10,000 people and more than 2500 students took part in the online education series.  Last year, submissions were received from around the world, including films from the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malaysia and Germany.  For the 2021 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival, Blanco is expecting an even great number – and greater diversity – of submissions.

“One of the lessons of COVID has been that we’ve had to rethink our usual ways of doing things,” said Blanco. “That’s not a bad thing for any arts or environmental organization. We will come out of the pandemic and its aftermath more prepared and more ready to execute our mission of saving the world’s oceans, one film at a time.”

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 and Conservation.

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 560 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.

Current sponsors for the upcoming 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival include National Marine Sanctuary, the Consul General of Canada, Blue and Gold Ferry, RBC Wealth Management, Heidrick & Struggles, Pacific Gas & Electric, The Joseph R. Parker Foundation, and the Orange County Community Foundation.

The International Ocean Film Festival encourages its patrons, supporters and partners to follow the most current advice from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for preventing the further spread of the COVID-19 in Northern California and beyond, and to stay tuned for announcements about International Ocean Film Festival events once the threat level is reduced. The 18th Annual International Ocean Film Festival will take place April 15 – May 2, 2021 online at Possible in-person events, dependent upon COVID protocols, may be scheduled at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. The International Ocean Film Festival is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit.