Whales and dolphins and octopi, oh my!
After a whole decade of showcasing in theatres around the globe, the Ocean Film Festival, a cinematic celebration of the big blue, is set to make its Canadian debut.
On the evening of Nov. 9 the festival will unleash a string of aquatic short films at North Vancouver's Centennial Theatre, presenting an international tour of stories that honour marine life, divers, surfers and oceanographers.
There is a once-in-a-lifetime surfing trip to a winter ravaged eastern Russia, an inside look into the world of Italian free diving, an adventure into the Arctic to document the polar region’s sea ice loss. One film dives into the intricacies of whale sounds, while another has one particularly endearing octopus as its protagonist.
Local waters get their turn in the spotlight too, with the festival’s concluding film focusing on Vancouver freedive instructor and swimmer Roberta Cenedese. Viewers are taken along Cenedese’s journey as she trains for one of the most challenging feats in action sports, an icy mile in the three-degree waters of the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s surprising that they’ve taken so long to consider Canada as one of the hosting countries, because it’s the perfect fit,” said Alvaro Calderon, the operations director for Ocean Film Festival Canada. “We have such a large ocean-loving culture here.”
While organizers could have selected anywhere in the country to host the festival’s launch, it was the North Shore, with its ocean-hugging location, close proximity to the mountains and outdoorsy denizens that made for the most fitting location, said Calderon.
“The North Shore community is really outdoorsy, we thrive in nature here,” he said. “It just made a lot of sense. It was a perfect match, a no-brainer. If we are going to put this in a place, it’s got to be here on the North Shore.”
The festival, which was created in Australia in 2012 and has gone on to showcase annually to eager audiences in 14 countries, is a true celebration of North Shore living. It is presented by Vancouver's North Shore Tourism Association and its sponsors include the Capilano University Alumni Association (CUAA) and North Vancouver shipping company Neptune Terminals and, tying in with the festival's aim to inspire viewers to explore and enjoy the oceans while protecting and respecting it, it has also partnered with Ocean Wise to organize local beach clean ups.
“There are so many people that want to help and make a difference, so many that truly care about the environment,” said Calderon. “This is more of a movement than just a festival, a place for like-minded people to get together and celebrate the oceans and do their bit to help keep them thriving. It’s a special community.”
Ocean Film Festival will be donating ticket sales to the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Seymour Salmonid Society, and there will even be a special contribution from North Point Brewing Company, with the local craft brewery offering a special edition west coast pale ale and craft lager to celebrate the event.
The limited edition beverage will be debuted in-house at a launch party Oct. 25, gearing audiences up for the main cinematic event Nov. 9.
To view trailers and book tickets, visit oceanfilmfestivalcanada.ca.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.