Hawaii Ocean Film Festival will pay tribute to the Gulf of Mexico

July 20, 2010 | Surfing

Hawaii Ocean Film Festival: people of the Gulf will be honoured

Opening night of the annual Hawaii Ocean Film Festival will be a tribute to both the people of the Gulf Coast and ocean volunteers in Hawaii. Generally, the festival receives independent films about marine resources, ocean recreation and our cultural connections to the sea from exotic, isolated, or coastal and island nations.

In the 10+ years the event has been in existence, they have never received a short film from the Gulf of Mexico or the Southern U.S. But this year, around Valentines Day, filmmaker Robbie Fisher, from Mississippi submitted the short documentary "Gulf Islands," about the The Gulf Islands National Seashore Park, the barrier islands which stretch 160 miles from Cat Island Mississippi to Okaloosa Florida.

Shortly after the April oil spill began, the festival realized they had captured a snapshot in time, of a people and place that will never be the same. "The film "Gulf Islands" humbled us. If we were to make a short about some of the neighborhoods here in Hawaii, it would be very similar to that film.

Interviews with some of the local artists, the older folks that have lived there for generations, and the people who love and care for the natural resources in the region," said Meli Sandler, festival director.

"After you screen a film like that, you feel like you know the people in the film. We screened alot of sad and angry films on the oil spill, and seen a lot about the spill on TV. but there were very few that let know the people in depth. If that spill would have happened in Hawaii, I would want the voices of the artists, the older folks, and the people who love and care for the natural resources to be heard."

That has always been the objective of the film festival, but the impact of the oil spill refocused this year's opening night on Saturday, July 24th, on the north shore of Kauai to include a tribute to the people of the Gulf Coast and the massive volunteer efforts that will likely be needed in that region for the next decade.

"Our focus has always been to show short films and PSA's that inspire people to get involved ocean organizations and activities. The festival is fast paced, and up-beat. We expose the audience to some of the issues that are impacting our oceans, but we don't beat them over the head with it. We don't want people paralyzed with fear, we want them to be inspired by those who are making a difference."

This years selection includes: The premier of " "Aikane o ke kai – Friends of the Sea" by Robert Zelkovsky of Kauai, who profiles the Surfrider Foundation, Sea Scouts, Malama Na Apapa; who cleans nets off the reef and ships them to HPower, The Sierra Club, and KORE; who takes special needs kids and adults surfing.

From Oahu, The organization "Surfing The Nations" submitted "Gum For My Boat ~ Surfing Bangladesh,” that introduces us to the boys and girls of the Bangladesh Surf Club, who are given a chance to escape their impoverished lifestyle and enjoy an ocean that was once deemed off limits due to fear and a very conservative Islamic culture.

Offering insight into the Mentawai's and Nias Island; (off Sumatr, Indonesia) the organization "Surfaid International," offers humanitarian aid to the people suffering from Malaria, malnutrition, and disasters, who are living in isolated areas but are connected to us through surfing.The film includes cameos of many stars of the surf industry who have lent their voices to the cause; including Hawaii's Sanoe Lake, Keala Kennelly,

The festival receives films from all over the world for their "Cultural Connections to the Sea,and Ocean Recreation" categories, and this year will present a sneak preview of “Mayumba - Equator Flavored Pointbreaks on the Edge of Africa" by Emiliano Cataldi, which is an adventure with longboard Champ Sam Bleakley, Erwan Simon, and Hawaiis' legendary Randy Rarick as they explore the remote south coast of Gabon in west Africa.

"Aloha Uraguaii" by Juan M. Bonner of Uruguay, who exposes us to a very young surf culture that is evolving in Uruguay, that shares our spirit of Aloha, love, joy, and respect for the ocean, and "Miss South Pacific, another sneak preview of a film on climate change by Kauai filmmaker Teri Tico.

Also included are the winning student film "One Ocean left to Save," by 17 year old Gabriel Abrams of Kauai, and "Squid Sucks Camera" by Chris Barela, of Big Island who took 1st place in the Marine Resources catagory with his short film on a typical day of spearfishing with marine life that hates paparazzi.

After 10+ years of creating the unique The Hawaii Ocean Film Festival, they are hoping that the audience realizes that the people that dedicate their voices, energy, and livelihoods to preserving, protecting, exploring, supporting and celebrating, our vast water planet are also a precious resource.

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