Holliday At San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The 12th Annual San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival is underway this weekend, offering more than 40 films from filmmakers from 14 countries.

Ana Blanco, Executive Director, says, “We applaud their vision of creating an opportunity to raise awareness surrounding ocean conservation efforts through the art of film. The Festival and panel discussions will take place at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center. The line-up of films will not only inspire us and educate us, they will remind us of our place in world when it comes to protecting our most vital natural resource – the ocean.”

Of all the films, only one documentary centers on an open water swimmer: The Clean Cross by Damian Antochewicz, Oliver Deppert and Sam Lewis. The Clean Cross is a 19-minute film about Simon Holliday who “rose to the challenge of a 35-kilometer swim from Hong Kong to Macau, crossing shipping lanes, dodging ship traffic and negotiating the trash at the mouth of the Pearl River. Pushing his own limits while increasing awareness of ocean pollution, he finishes the swim in record time.”

The 2015 Award Winners of the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival:

*Coastal Culture Award: Thule Tuvalu (Switzerland)
With breathtaking imagery from the high arctic and the tropical Pacific, this thoughtful and elegant film addresses the threat of climate change, exploring how communities in Northern Greenland and the South Pacific will have to adapt as sea levels rise and the ice retreats. The scenery is majestic and the cultural insights fascinating.

*Conservation Award: Dive With You (Taiwan)
Whale sharks are seen as the gentle polka-dotted giants of the ocean. Watch a community’s evolution from hunting them for food, to studying their life cycle, to advocating for shark conservation, and working to release captive whale sharks back to the ocean.

*Director’s Award: México Pelágico (Mexico)
While chasing a sardine bait ball near Baja California, a film crew encounters a group of shark fishermen. The filmmakers change their focus to make a movie about the wealth of Mexico’s marine life and the need to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the shark fishermen while preserving the delicate ecosystem.

*Environmental Award: Acid Ocean (Australia)
Scientists are studying life forms of a coral reef off Papua, New Guinea, which has natural acidic discharges; in the Southern Ocean; and at an oyster hatchery in the Pacific Northwest to learn how a sudden rise in ocean acidity is affecting creatures whose hard structures cannot develop in highly acidic water.

*Golden Gate Award (Local Bay Area Filmmaker): Into the Mind of Greg Long (USA)
Watching surfers on huge waves, you have no idea what they did to get themselves to that point. Professional big wave surfer Greg Long reveals his thoughtful physical and mental preparation for riding those waves. Big wave surfing is not a reckless act, but a calculated endeavor.

*Innovation Award: Net Positiva (USA)
A trio of friends from Southern California head to the wild coastline of Chile on an aspiring quest to turn the negative—and inevitable—impact of discarded plastic fishing nets into something positive for the environment and the locals.

*Short Award: The Reef (USA)
On the remote atoll of Ulithi in Micronesia, the reefs are changing. Faced with a declining fish population and increasing levels of invasive cabbage coral, the community works to revitalize the reefs by collaborating and rediscovering traditional fishing management in an attempt to ward off having to relocate.

*Wildlife Award: Shark Girl (Australia)
Madison Stewart, a young Australian, grew up diving with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef. When she realized how rapidly the numbers of sharks were dwindling, she dropped out of school at the age of 14 to become a strong and persistent advocate for shark conservation and reef preservation.

 Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones