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Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Big Blue Film Fest expands to 27 films and two Newport venues

Films range from 3 minutes on an 83-year-old collector of sea lion data to a one-hour documentary about a Hawaiian woman trying to maintain a family bay-keeping legacy.

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“Disappearing Jewels,” a 10-minute film by Will Kim on the impact of climate change and ocean warming, has won the Best Film award at the Big Blue Film Festival and will be screened Saturday night, Jan. 27 at the Newport Performing Arts Center.
“Disappearing Jewels,” a 10-minute film by Will Kim on the impact of climate change and ocean warming, won the Best Film award at the Big Blue Film Festival and will be screened Saturday night, Jan. 27, at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Big Blue Film Fest expands to 27 films and two Newport venues” was published originally on Jan. 4, 2024, by YachatsNews.com, an ArtsWatch Community Partner. ArtsWatch is republishing the piece with permission.

A colony of horseshoe crabs struggling to survive in New Jersey’s coastal waters. Five French Polynesian surfers sharing their perceptions of the ocean. The effects of climate change on the planet’s most remote locations.

Films on just these three topics would make a full evening of fascinating viewing. In fact, however, the list barely scratches the surface of the 27 ocean-themed films that make up this year’s Big Blue Film Fest, set for Jan. 26 and 27 in Newport.

“The whole goal is to bring together really cool stories that revolve around the confluence of marine sciences, humanities, and the arts,” Erin Webber, the festival’s director, told YachatsNews. “And what we’ll have for viewers are beautiful stories from all over the world.”

Small, independent filmmakers from 39 countries submitted a total of 155 offerings, she said. Of those, judges selected 27 finalists, which have been grouped into six, two-hour blocks that will be shown in two locations – the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building and the Newport Performing Arts Center.

On Jan. 26, the Gladys Valley building will host a Friday night mixer and premier. It’s described by officials as an event where filmmakers and community members can mingle before watching what are judged to be the festival’s winning film.

The second day, Saturday, Jan. 27, will be devoted to showing festival films at those two locations.

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“This gives us a really great chance to communicate with the public about all of the things going on in the marine sciences,” said Adriene Koett-Cronn, a communications specialist at the Hatfield center. “The variety of films we have lined up provide different looks through many different lenses.”

Five of the 27 films set for viewing were submitted by Oregon filmmakers, she said.

SUCCESS AND EXPANSION

The festival traces its roots to 2015, when the late Maryann Bozza, a Hatfield marine researcher, pulled together a number of ocean-themed films for employees to enjoy.

An effort was made last year to expand the festival and make it a public event.

“To our surprise,” Koett-Cronn said, “it sold out pretty quickly.”

That overwhelming success led to the decision this time around to add the performing arts center as a second venue and accept more films.

Other films this year focus on topics such as the role of kelp forests in maintaining health ocean ecosystems, life along the northwest Irish coastline, and a documentary profiling award-winning fine art photographer Artem Shestakov.

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Tickets for the opening-night social and films cost $20. Tickets for adult admissions per film block are $15 each, while student tickets cost $12. An all-access pass costs $55. Tickets can be purchased online in advance. Tickets are also available at the Newport Performing Arts Center’s ticket office or by calling 541-265-ARTS. Tickets may be available at the door if a block of films is not sold out.

Below are brief descriptions of the films. To see larger descriptions and purchase tickets, go to the festival’s website.

“Keeper of the Bay,” a documentary about marine conservation through the eyes of a native Hawaiian woman as she struggles to continue a family bay-keeping legacy, won the Most Inspiring Film award and will be shown Jan. 27 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
“Keeper of the Bay,” a documentary about marine conservation through the eyes of a native Hawaiian woman as she struggles to continue a family bay-keeping legacy, won the Most Inspiring Film award and will be shown Jan. 27 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

FILMS, SCHEDULES, LOCATIONS

Hatfield Marine Science Center, 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 27:

The Kelp Keepers, 8 minutes: The film introduces us to Dave Lacey, a Port Orford-based outfitter who was among the first to notice kelp forests collapsing on the south coast of Oregon.

Otter Rock Marine Reserve: Where Science and Stewardship Meet, 11 minutes: At just 1.2 square miles, Otter Rock Marine Reserve is the smallest of five designated sites along the Oregon Coast where no fishing or ocean development is allowed.

Art for Sea to Sky, 19 minutes: Exploring the inspiration and method behind the work of Bowen Island artist Di.

Fair Seas: the Atlantic Northwest, 14 minutes: Life along the northwest Irish coastline is constantly moved and shaped by the wild green waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Arctic Halocline, 20 minutes: This film tells the story of the groundbreaking discoveries made by an international research program that has been monitoring the Arctic Ocean for 20 years.

Hatfield Marine Science Center, 1 p.m. Saturday

Returning Home, 10 minutes: A film about the marine protected areas in Limassol, Cyprus.

Creatures of the Kaleidoscope, 18 minutes: Exploring one of nature’s most magical creatures, the cuttlefish. (Best Student Filmmaker Award)

The Ocean’s Greatest Feast, 50 minutes: Every winter, South Africa’s east coast sees billions of sardines converge in the biggest biomass migration on the planet. As they move up the coast, this four-mile-long shoal faces a range of predators.

Hatfield Marine Science Center, 4 p.m. Saturday

Rocky Intertidal Zones, 3 minutes: A young boy explores the rocky intertidal zones of the Oregon Coast, from the Neskowin Ghost Forest to Devil’s Punch Bowl.

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Observing for a Future, 5 minutes: A documentary about the work of NOAA’s West Coast groundfish observer program headquartered in Newport.

Guardian of the Sea Lions, 3 minutes: The film is centered around Janet Ledingham, an 83-year-old woman who voluntarily collects data on sea lions, a nationally vulnerable species, for the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust.

Keeper of the Bay, 1 hour: This documentary film is about marine conservation through the eyes of a native Hawaiian woman as she struggles to continue a family bay-keeping legacy. (Most Inspiring Film award.)

"The Perfect Shot: Antarctica" profiles award-winning photographer Artem Shestakov as he attempts to photograph the most remote locations on the planet affected by the climate crisis.
“The Perfect Shot: Antarctica” profiles award-winning photographer Artem Shestakov as he attempts to photograph the most remote locations on the planet affected by the climate crisis. It screens Saturday afternoon in the Newport Performing Arts Center.

Newport Performing Arts Center, 2 p.m. Saturday

Echoes From The Blue Meadow, 11 minutes: Motivated by the dream of being a marine biologist, Itzel is the first Mexican researcher to be part of the Gulf Listen international network for acoustic monitoring of cetaceans.

The Perfect Shot: Antarctica, 10 minutes: This inventive and captivating documentary profiles award-winning fine art photographer Artem Shestakov as he attempts to photograph the most remote locations on the planet affected by the climate crisis.

Quahoggers: Rhode Island’s Iconic Shell-fishermen, 15 minutes: Spend time offshore with some unique characters, Rhode Island’s legendary Quahoggers.

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Women Captains, 52 minutes: Marilyn fishes lobster with her father and dreams of becoming a captain herself. She meets other determined women captains who encourage her. But, when her husband suddenly dies in an accident, she becomes a single mother and questions her dream.

Newport Performing Arts Center, 4 p.m. Saturday

Way of Life, 9 minutes: This ocean-based documentary shot in Koh Tao, Thailand, explores the history of Koh Tao, and its people’s deep, yet changing, connection to the ocean and the underwater world.

Antarctica, 10 minutes: Scientists explore the vast world beneath the frozen ocean ice in Antarctica to unlock the secrets essential to enduring climate change.

Eyes on the Seafloor, 11 minutes: This film takes you on a journey below the surface of the ocean with underwater submersibles to explore never-before-seen areas.

How to Grow an Island, 21 minutes: Scientists try to solve the mystery behind how a Caribbean island is growing out of the ocean, beating out modern sea-level rise.

Be Blue, 22 minutes: This documentary showcases an educational project about the importance of preserving our oceans. (Best in Education award)

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Newport Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. Saturday

A’ai, 5 minutes: The first film in the Esselen language is a discussion with a pelican announcing the funeral dance of its kelp forest to an Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation woman.

Just Beneath the Surface, 5 minutes: On a fishing trip, a man struggles with a strange and menacing ocean.

Life on the Edge: Exploring New Jersey’s Coastal Ecosystems, 15 minutes: The story of researchers, farmers, and conservationists working together to preserve crucial New Jersey coastal ecosystems while maintaining sustainable food production in Delaware Bay.

Understanding Hypoxia: Dead Zones on the Pacific Coast, 14 minutes: This film looks at low-oxygen on the West Coast and examines the effects on communities and the scientists looking at solutions.

Disappearing Jewels, 15 minutes: Remembering the filmmaker’s grandfather, who was a blind man and walking weather forecast, Will Kim interviews ocean experts and brings his perspective on the impact of climate change and ocean warming. (Best Film award)

Bound by the Ocean, 30 minutes: This documentary takes place in Teahupo’o, a small village in French Polynesia where five surfers share their perception of the ocean.

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