The ocean can be a refuge from the difficulties of life – in 2020, it’s fair to say that many of us long for a rejuvenating escape in nature. Without getting your feet wet, you can experience the wonders of the deep with the Ocean Film Festival World Tour. Two shows, on 25–27 October and 17–19 November each bring hand-picked, uplifting and inspiring ocean films. Here's a selection and preview of what's coming up.
Western Hudson Bay, near the US–Canadian border, lies next to the shifting ice plates of the Arctic. The polar bear is uniquely adapted to life on these lands, hunting seals that regularly come in to breed on the shores. Our warming climate, however, is melting the sea ice at an accelerated rate, taking polar bear prey further out to unreachable depths. As a result, polar bears are increasingly starved throughout the spring and summer seasons. Today, after decades of sea ice decline, there are 30 per cent fewer polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay area than recorded in 1984. Steven Amstrup is a polar bear researcher spearheading the efforts of Polar Bears International – a group helping to conserve the bears and their positive impact on local, tourism-based economies. Bare Existence intimately depicts the modern pressures that polar bears and communities face during the disappearance of vital sea ice.
Camel Finds Water
Trevor Gordon has a humble vision of freedom. For him, it means sailing across Californian waters in search of surfable waves, line-catching the evening’s meal, before cracking open a beer or two to watch the sunset. The only hurdle is affording the boat itself – the ticket to the ministrations of open water. Trevor and a team of believers have a makeshift solution: to restore a weather-beaten, marooned boat that sits in a field near their hometown. Armed with saws, sanders, and epoxy-resin (with zero knowledge of boat restoration), Trevor restores the boat from scrapyard material to a glistening, pastel-toned beauty that could be straight from the set of a Wes Anderson movie. A tale of determination, self-belief and passion, Camel Finds Water is about as wholesome viewing as you could hope for.
Every day, the ‘Street Surfers’ of Johannesburg skate the roads and sidewalks with makeshift carts, affixed to a giant sack to collect recyclable plastic. The Street Surfers collect up to 90 per cent of discarded plastic and paper in South Africa, using it to prop up an economy in which hauls of recyclables are traded and exchanged for rand. Professional surfer Frank Soloman wants to turn the world’s attention to this ocean preservation work. Many of the Street Surfers have never even seen the ocean, yet their daily grind helps to prevent swathes of plastic from entering the depths. When Frank takes a few Street Surfers away from the Johannesburg concrete for a surfing lesson – their first encounter with the ocean – they instantly form a strong bond with the water. Street Surfers shows how activism and conservation work can spring from the most unlikely places.
Tidal follows Lisa Beasley from her formative years as a burgeoning ocean-lover, to a thrill-seeking, base-jumping adult. Her obsession for adrenaline took her base-jumping around the world, building experience and respect for the danger of the sport. One jump in South Africa, however, saw her open her parachute too early, causing her to bank into the cliff repeatedly, breaking her ribs, cranium and tibia. The recovery took three years. Afterwards, she sought refuge in South Africa’s tidal pools of False Bay and Signal Hill, exploring the sea life that abounds in the sheltered pools. Her photos of crustacea and anemones grew a community of pool-going divers. The community mustered their support to halt the routine cleaning of the pools with toxic chlorine products, protecting a haven for ocean lovers and sea life alike.
The Ocean Film Festival has two shows, on 25-27 October and 17-19 November, with the viewing window for each open for 48 hours. See www.oceanfilmfestival.co.uk for more information and to book your place!