Kick Off Your New Year in Hawaii at the Waimea Ocean Film Festival


With all the outdoor experiences you can enjoy on the Big Island for the holiday season and early January, you may wonder why I would suggest sitting in a theater or ballroom to watch films. Because you will see the ocean, her creatures, her protectors and promoters in ways that will enhance your visit to Hawaii and if you live here, want to preserve the magic we have here on our island.

Here is the scoop below, but let me tell you..from the photos and information I have read, spending a few hours at some of our most beautiful resorts learning about and enjoying fascinating stories and photography is time well spent.

January 1-4, 2018
Waimea, Mauna Kea Resort
+ The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaiʻi

January 5-9, 2018
Four Seasons Resort Hualālai

The Festival schedule will be released on December 23rd. 

The action-packed 2018 Waimea Ocean Film Festival (Waimea Film) offers an exciting lineup of films, speakers, coffee talks, Q&As, exhibits, presentations and morning activities, running non-stop January 1-9. The annual event opens January 1, with films playing simultaneously January 1-4 at multiple venues in Waimea (Kahilu Theatre, HPA Gates, Parker Theatre) and at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i. On January 5, the festival moves to Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, where films play this year under the stars at Hoku Amphitheatre.

Waimea Film brings over 60 films to the big screen this year—most of which is the world, U.S., Hawai‘i or Big Island premieres—with many filmmakers in attendance to answer questions. The festival immerses participants in a greater understanding and awareness of the ocean and island culture through exceptional films, talks, exhibits, and activities. Films fall into the basic categories of ocean experience (such as surfing and paddling); ocean environment—including things we do on land that impact the sea, and island cultures. Inspirational, thought-provoking films and those that shed light on who we are, infuse the program, sharing the extraordinary.

Anthony Geffen, founder, and CEO of Atlantic Productions brings an extraordinary coral reef series to the festival, in addition to an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience. Geffen worked 10 years for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) before establishing Atlantic Productions in 1992. He has garnered over 50 international awards for his work, including multiple British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), multiple Emmy Awards and the Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for outstanding contribution to film and television. Geffen brings David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef to the festival, along with a complete immersive VR experience to match. He also brings the U.S. premiere of Galapagos with Liz Bonnin.

The executive producer of Planet Earth II, Jonny Keeling has 21 years filmmaking experience in BBC’s Natural History Unit, spanning a wide range of material and outputs—including BBC’s top dollar productions, known as blue-chip global landmarks, live broadcasts, observational documentaries and presenter-led formats. Keeling is currently the executive producer for the 2019 BBC landmark series Seven Worlds and also heads up the Children’s Natural History Unit at the BBC. As part of this unit, Keeling is the executive producer on the popular children’s series, Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures, which he brings to Waimea Film this year, along with two episodes of the acclaimed Planet Earth II. This also includes a special children’s presentation of Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 4 at the Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library.

Dr. Gregory S. Stone joins the festival for a presentation titled “Ocean Renaissance,” as he discusses the general state of the ocean today and his upcoming role as science advisor to the recently appointed (UN) Special Envoy for the Ocean, which has been set up to track and encourage the implementation of the ocean sustainable development goal 14 (SDG14). Dr. Stone is currently chief scientist for oceans at Conservation International, special advisor on oceans to the World Economic Forum, and on the boards of Pacific Rising, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area Trust (chair) and Aqua-Spark. He has also recently accepted the role as science advisor to the recently appointed United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for the Ocean.

Swiss producer, director, writer, cameraman, photographer, mountain guide and diver Sébastien Devrient has a filmography of nearly 30 films, including the highly regarded series Mountains of Dream, which was broadcast on the French channel Escales/TREK for more than 10 years. Devrient brings The Ocean Rider, in which French-Swiss sailor Yvan Bourgnon—winner of the Jacques Vabre transatlantic race—sets out to be the first person to sail solo around-the-world in a small, open catamaran without a cabin.

The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan retraces the 1928 Tour De France route in the exciting festival film, Le Ride. Keoghan, and riding companion Ben Cornell, average 150 miles a day, riding original, vintage, steel-framed bicycles with no gears, to recreate and tell the story of the 1928 Tour De France. It shares how a small, under-resourced team from New Zealand and Australia lined up in Paris next to Europe’s best riders, racing as a team of four against teams of 10. The Little Optimist shares the extraordinary story of Greg Bertish—a two-time, open-heart surgery survivor—and his sail in a tiny children’s sailing dinghy 200 km along the coast of South Africa to raise funds for a local children’s ICU.

For other exciting, action-adventure-inspiration films, Waters of the Greenstone follows two women through the older, multi-sport adventure race, The Kathmandu Coast; Breaking 60 chronicles the 2016 push to meet the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge, and Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out is pure fun on the big screen. Kate Webber also brings Kimi Swims, which tells the story of Kim Chambers, who started to swim after an accidental fall meant almost losing her leg, only to then go on to become one of only six people to complete the Ocean’s Seven challenge—the marathon swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits challenge.

Foodie and Malaysian-born filmmaker Andrew Gooi joins the festival to share Kakehashi: A Portrait of Chef Nobuo Fukuda. Told by his father that he would someday be “kakehashi,” a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world, Chef Nobuo Fukuda left Japan as a young man, where he struggled to fit within the culture and moved to the U.S. Gooi began Food Talkies in 2016 as a primary platform to share food stories. In 2017, Food Talkies was nominated for two James Beard Awards: Visual & Technical Excellence and Video Webcast On Location.

Under the Artic Sky

For the surf lineup, The Big Wave Project and Nervous Laughter feature top big wave surfers in epic waves, from Pe‘ahi/Jaws on Maui to the Nazaré in Portugal. Under an Artic Sky shares the stunning imagery and interesting story of a Chris Burkard production. Endless Winter II provides a fascinating history of the surf scene and winter surf run in Europe while Bezerke and Dispatches from Mexico both offer a vantage from inside the barrel.

Bud Browne Film Archives’ Surfing the 50s shares a window into surfing in that decade. Rarely shown, the Waimea Ocean Film Festival is one of a handful of viewing locations chosen by Bud Browne Film Archives to showcase these heritage films. Anna Trent Moore, curator of the collection, also shares a slide show with Bud Browne’s work, for this special presentation.

Offering solutions to energy issues, the E2 series returns to the festival with episodes on E2-2030. The film tells the story of architect Ed Mazria’s Architecture 2030 organization and how it’s working towards a commitment to a carbon-neutral building sector by the year 2030, in a collaborative effort between government, architects, agencies and building suppliers.

Chasing Coral, directed by award-winner director and former festival special guest Jeff Orlowski, follows a mass-bleaching event. As carbon emissions warm the planet and ocean temperatures rise, a phenomenon called “coral bleaching”—a sign of mass coral death—has been accelerating around the world. The bleaching has implications for the entire ocean ecosystem and landscape. A team of divers, photographers, technicians and scientists, including Jeff Orlowski, set out to document the process.

IMAX producer Jen Casey joins the festival to share the IMAX and National Geographic film, Extreme Weather; it follows the people trying to understand what is happening: storm chasers working to place instruments into tornados, scientists striving to understand the rate of change of glacial melt and firefighters battling to control the increasing number and intensity of wildfires.

Mind of a Giant brings insight into the intelligence of elephants: that they are aware of the safety of park boundaries, understand where those borders lie and how their matriarchs try to keep families safe when they cross between. And, The Last Animals, directed and produced by war correspondent Kate Brooks, provides a detailed and important account of the people working to save the planet’s last elephants and rhinos, whose numbers have been decimated in recent years by trade in rhino horns and ivory. The film also reveals how much of this poaching is organized by terrorist groups, who cross national borders to extract ivory and rhino horns as a means to fund operations, adding additional incentive to halt the trade.

Anyone who missed Ocean Film’s 2017 Audience Choice award winner, The Weekend Sailor, has more chance to see this exciting film, along with co-winner The Age of Consequences.

Producer Phil Arnone returns with the KGMB production, Honolulu 100 Years in the Making, sharing some of the history and story of the last 100 years in the making of Honolulu. O‘ahu-based filmmaker Maribel Apuya revisits with the complete three-part series, A Sakada Story, sharing the stories of three Filipinos who came to work on Hawai‘i’s plantations between 1906-1946, and their families.

The Hoaʻaina of Haʻena tells the story of the collective effort to establish Hawaiʻi’s first, community-based subsistence fishing management area, while Ku‘ulei Keakealani gives a walking tour along the coastline of Ka‘upulehu to update the progress made there. Vey nou Lagon talks about similar work and issues in Mauritius, while Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch follows research to understand the decline in fish stocks worldwide, with the hope of understanding and stopping the decline before it’s too late, as happened with the cod fishery in Newfoundland. 

Big Island filmmaker Bryce Groark brings the world premiere of The Last ‘Opelu Man, which shares this fishing tradition through the life of Uncle Chucky Leslie—legendary fisherman, waterman and kupuna of Kealakekua Bay. Groark also answers questions following the showing of the film Sea of Hope with ocean legend Sylvia Earle, for which he was director of cinematography.

Ed Lyman, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Large Whale Entanglement Response Coordinator under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, gives a presentation and update on response efforts. The film, In the Wake of Giants, also screens to preface Lyman’s talk.

In honor of prior-year special guest Eddie Kamae, who passed away in January 2017, the film Sons of Hawai‘i plays at this year’s festival. The late Kamae is considered one of the greatest Hawaiian musicians of his time. The film, directed and produced by him and his wife, shares the story of the band he formed of the same name. In addition, Sonny Lim and the trio Kuleana give a special homage, playing songs from Sons of Hawaii, January 3 at Kahilu Theatre.

Hokule‘a returned home to Hawai‘i in June this year, after making a successful circumnavigation of the globe. “The Voyager Exhibit,” set up at Kahilu Theatre, shares a feeling for life on the canoe and voyage while marking and noting the eight UNESCO marine world heritage sites visited along the way in an effort to highlight the importance of preserving these unique and important locations.

“The Voyager Exhibit,” including the 8×13-foot world map developed as part of the festival to highlight the Worldwide Voyage (WWV) route, opens at Kahilu Theatre with a blessing and ceremony 4 p.m. January 1. Master (Pwo) Navigator and Makali‘i Captain Chadd Paishon leads a discussion sharing background about the journey 10-11 a.m. January 2-4 in front of the WWV map in Kahilu Theatre. He is joined by Brad Kaaleleo Wong, Hokule‘a voyager and Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) representative, to talk more about our own UNESCO marine heritage site, Papahanaumokuakea.

Art weaves once again throughout the 2018 festival, as festival artists return to share the experience. Bonnie Cherni offers classes in ocean-inspired origami January 1-4 at the Fairmont Orchid.

Painter Sophie Twigg-Smith Teururai, the granddaughter of noted artist William Twigg-Smith, presents a full exhibit of recent works at the Fairmont Orchid January 1-4. Teururai provided the cover art for the festival this year.

Volcano-based block artist Caren Loebel-Fried returns to the festival, sharing a “live documentary” about her time on Midway and a behind-the-scenes look at how she created her recent book, A Perfect Day for an Albatross. Artist Catherine Robbins, also Volcano-based, brings her original oil paintings of Kīlauea for display. A former ranger at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park who was stationed where Kīlauea’s lava flowed into the sea, Robbins delivers a “Ranger Talk,” with updates on the lava flow and stories from the park.

Puako-based painter Christian Enns paints en plein air 8-11 a.m. January 2-5 on the beach at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, offering attendees the chance to observe and gain a sense of this process.

Selections and film synopsis from the 2018 film lineup includes:

The Age of Consequences (USA/Jared P. Scott)

America’s Diplomats (USA/Richardo R. Lopes)

Annapurna III-Unclimbed (UK/Jochen Schmoll)

The Big Wave Project (Australia/Tim Bonython)

Breaking 60 (UK, Robin Lee)

Chasing Coral (USA/Jeff Orlowski)

Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out (UK/Stu Thomson)

David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef-Builders (UK/Mike Davis, Anne Sommerfield)*

David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef-Visitors (UK/Mike Davis, Anne Sommerfield)*

Dispatches from Mexico (Italy/Eugenio Barcelloni)

E2-Architecture 2030 (USA/Tad Fettig)

The Edge (USA/Carlos Andres Toro)

The Endless Winter II (UK/Matt Crocker, James Dean)

Extreme Weather (USA/Sean Casey)*

The Farthest (Ireland/Emer Reynolds)

Finding Sanctuary (USA/John Waller)

Fishpeople (USA/Keith Malloy)

Frans Lanting: The Evolution of LIFE (USA/Steven Kochones)

Galapagos with Liz Bonnin-Final Frontier (UK/Mike Davis, Ben Lawrie)*

Ghosts of the Arctic (Australia/Abraham Joffe)

Great Highway (USA/Mark Gunson)

Headwind Haters (UK/Chris McClean)

The Hoa‘aina of Ha‘ena (USA/Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamo)*

Hokule‘a Worldwide Voyage (USA/Na‘alehu Anthony)

Honolulu 100 Years in the Making (USA/Phil Arnone)*

In the Wake of Giants (USA/Lou Douros)*

Into Twin Galaxies (UK/Jochen Schmoll)

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings (UK/Tadashi Nakamura)

The Journey (UK/Simon Alveranga)

Kakehashi-A Portrait of Chef Nobuo Fukuda (USA/Andrew Gooi)*

Kim Swims (USA/Kate Webber)*

The Last Animals (USA and UK/Kate Brooks)

The Last ‘Opelu Man (USA/Bryce Groark)*

Le Ride (USA/Phil Keoghan)*

The Little Optimist (South Africa/Robert Whitehead)

Maximizing Solar Power on Electrical Grids (USA/Devonie McCamey)

Mind of a Giant (USA/ Emre Izat, Geoff Luck)

The Missing Catch (USA/Alison Barrat)

Monte Sarmiento-The White Diva (UK/Jochen Schmoll)

Mucho Gusto (Brazil/Mark Daniel)

Nervous Laughter (UK/Daniel Norkunas)

The Ocean Rider (Switzerland/Sebastien Devrient)*

Planet Earth II-Mountains (BBC) (UK/Justin Anderson)*

Planet Earth II-Grasslands (BBC) (UK/Chadden Hunter)*

The Sakada Series (USA/Maribel Apuya)*

Sea of Hope (USA/Robert Nixon)*

Sharkwater (Canada/Rob Stewart)

Sons of Hawai‘i (USA/Myrna and Eddie Kamae)*

Surfing the 50’s (USA/Bud Browne)*

Tales by Light-Misunderstood Predators (Australia/Abraham Joffe)

Tales by Light-Antarctic Panorama (Australia/Abraham Joffe)

Tales by Light-Submerged (Australia/Abraham Joffe)*

Tour of Ara (South Africa/Rick Wall)

Under an Arctic Sky (USA/Chris Burkard)

Vey nou Lagon (Mauritius/Vanina Harel, Zara Currimjee)*

Waters of the Greenstone (New Zealand/Simon Waterhouse)

The Weekend Sailor (Mexico/Bernardo Arsuaga)

Wild Ireland-Part 1 (Ireland/John Murray, Cepa Giblin)

Wild Ireland-Part 2 (Ireland/John Murray, Cepa Giblin)

* Filmmaker/Presenter attending Ocean Film and leading discussion

For the latest updates on films and speakers, follow the festival on Facebook,, visit or email [email protected].

The full lineup of films and the complete festival program will be available to download at around December 19. Festival passes can be purchased via the website or at 808-854-6095.

The Waimea Ocean Film Festival is a 501c3 organization made possible through the support of patrons, sponsors and the community. Mahalo to the 2018 Waimea Film partners: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Holualoa Inn, PSAV, Matson, K2 Imaging, Sushi Rock, Laulima Food Patch, Big Island Brewhaus, Big Island Traveler, Maile Charters, Mauna Lani Sea Adventures, Kamuela Inn, Starbucks Coffee, Anna Ranch Heritage Center, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), Parker School, West Hawaii Today, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Waimea Music, Kona Law, Emily T Gail Show, Waimea Yoga, Alaskan Airlines, Maui Jim Sunglasses, The Beach FM and The Wave FM.

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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