San Francisco Ocean Film Festival

The 7th Annual San Francisco Ocean Film Festival is being held February 3-7, 2010 in J’lachic Theatre 39 at PIER 39 at The Embarcadero and Beach Street, San Francisco, CA. Co-sponsored by Aquarium of the Bay and The Bay Institute, the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival will be bigger and better than ever as the event expands to encompass five days of ocean-inspired films. 

“Adding two days to the festival has the dual advantage of providing attendees with more flexibility on the days and times that films are shown, as well as tripling the number of free weekday screenings for Bay Area public school students,” stated Festival Founder and Board Chair Krist Jake. “We are particularly excited about moving the venue to PIER 39 where there are more restaurants and amenities to meet our festival-goers’ needs.”

With a reputation as the largest and most diverse festival of its kind, the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival features documentaries, animations, narratives and other traditional and experimental genre on topics ranging from ocean adventures to the environment to marine wildlife to island culture and more.

The festival is organized as a series of programs that feature attention-riveting films and in-depth discussions with filmmakers and content experts, creating a unique public forum on the environmental, social and cultural importance of the world’s marine resources.

Starting off the Festival is the short film about Dr. Sylvia Earle, the First Lady of oceanographers, in Sylvia Earle: A Profile, directed by Amy Miller and Joan Johnson. Dr. Earle has  been recognized by the Library of Congress as a Living Legend.

The highlight of feature films is, of course, The Cove, now an Oscar® nominee for Best Feature Documentary after already winning 46 film awards worldwide (so far). The awards are well-deserved for this account of dolphin activist Ric O’Barry’s dedicated attempts to expose the secret capture and slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese fishing village. Director Louie Psihoyos makes his film directing debut after years as a world-class photographer.

Many selections in the festival deal with sea creatures at risk in the eco-challenged oceans, including whales, sharks and numerous birds, as well as coral reefs and polar icescapes. Among those films:

In To Save the Whale, directed by Gavin Newman, the Emmy Award-winning cinematographer follows Greenpeace crews as they attempt to foil Japanese whalers who defy an international ban on commercial whaling to slaughter whales in the interests of “science”.

Requiem, directed by Bryce Groark, discusses the steep decline in shark stock worldwide. One cause is due to shark finning, the on-board removal of a shark’s fins and the discarding at the sea of the remainder of the shark, which is sometimes alive during the process. As apex predators, sharks regulate the abundance of other fish, and therefore have a direct effect on ocean life.

Other films cover such “fish-ues” as depletion of species, pollution, and the demise of fishermens’ livelihoods and way of life. Some films are:

In The End of the Line, director Rupert Murray outlines the depletion of wild fish, once thought to be an inexhaustible resource. Some scientists estimate that 90% of all large fish have disappeared, such as the once-popular cod, which vanished from the western Atlantic by 1992.

The Bering Sea: An Ecosystem in Crisis, directed by Brent Balalas, studies the effect on the Aleuts of the devastation by factory trawlers, whose obscene wastefulness and massive habitat destruction are wiping out the last remnants of the pollock fishery.

But several films are also positive in their presentations of human endeavor, such as:

Free Swim, directed by Jennifer Galvin, is an award winning documentary about the paradox of coastal people not knowing how to swim. On an island in the Bahamas, a group of kids are taught to swim in open waters, thus helping them overcome their fears, gain confidence and reconnect with their challenging environment.

The Official Selection of the Festival, From the Badlands to Alcatraz, directed by Nancy Iverson, follows five Oglala Lakota youth from South Dakota to San Francisco to swim from Alcatraz to the City. The film weaves the past and present of both Alcatraz and the Pine Ridge Reservation into a vivid depiction of the awe-inspiring journey the five youth navigate as they plunge into the waters of Alcatraz Island.

And many films remind us of the amazing life and dazzling beauty of the seas, including:

Surfing Dolphins, directed by Greg Huglin, whose film goes beyond simply beautiful or sublime, as this jubilant and lyrical montage combines exquisite dolphin footage with excellent water imagery and sound.

In Ocean Chronicles, director Leandro Blanco’s kaleidoscope of images whirls through time and space in this exploration of humankind’s relationship with the ocean.

South Georgia Island: A Southern Ocean Paradise, by Corina Gamma, JJ L’Heureux and C. Hunter Johnson. This film needs no narration as the rich score and superb images remind us that this paradise needs our protection.

Also included is a panel discussion on Oceans and Sustainability with local seafood purveyors, restaurateurs and conservationists, hosted by David McGuire, director of

For further details, visit  

San Francisco Ocean Film Festival
February 3-7, 2010

Theatre 39 at PIER 39
The Embarcadero and Beach Street
San Francisco, CA.