When my family and I attended the 2016 Waimea Ocean Film Festival from January 1-9, we had a chance to talk to the stars, directors, and writers of eye popping and awareness awakening films. We saw everything from movies about Humpback whales, a 3 day live action feed from Monterey Bay, (Big Blue Live) to wild mustangs (Unbranded) to sustainable traffic options for major cities (E2 -London-The Price of Traffic) and a movie about a man whose dad was the most notable political negotiator of our time, Richard Holbrook (The Diplomat). In some of these films, I kept thinking, “Why was this included in an “ocean” film festival?” Because the films in total made me think about the world and my place in it.
During and after the Film Fest, I was inspired to do a beach clean up, keep a more keen eye on world politics, take my son on a tour of a LEED certified building in Kona, re-watch “Unbranded” on Netflix, join their Facebook page and keep an eye on the wild mustang dilemma in the West, and I booked two humpback whale watching tours with my friends. Yes, this is the kind of film festival that makes you open your eyes and take action.
The passionate woman behind the Festival, Tania Howard, is what I call “the Thread Master”. I coined this term for her, because she is the one who spends all year watching hundreds of films around the country and hand picks which films to show each year at the Festival. Have you noticed, when you read through an anthology, there is a thread that runs through the stories? A thoughtful and skilled editor puts the collection of an anthology together with an underlying theme so it all makes sense, but not so glaring that you can actually pinpoint it until someone asks you about it when you are done with the book. Take that to the Film Festival and Tania creates that thread and we are left to suss out our own individual thoughts of what it is. And it is different for everyone, I am sure, based on each person’s own experiences and life stories.
The fact that you have to dig into your thoughts, put the films through a sifter in your mind and look at the whole at the end to see what it all meant- THAT is the price of admission.
Thank you to Tania and her AMAZING team of volunteers for bringing this to the Big Island each year. As a Kona resident living 2500 miles from major cities, where they take for granted they have access to so many rich opportunities, we are blessed to have this chance to have our minds activated and take direct action in helping our environment and the world around us.
I encourage you to book time between January 1-9 next year and give yourself the gift of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival. And seek out Tania, the Thread Master, when you do!
P.s. (If you find yourself, in the dead of winter, wanting to expand your brain and see some REALLY amazing documentaries and films, here is the 2016 Festival program. Many of the films in the Festival can be rented from Netflix, or seen directly from the web. Go to the Waimea Ocean Film Festival Facebook page and see who all the winners of the Festival are -here is one I will be trying to see now:
Best Film – Adventure
Garrett McNamara, Andrew Cotton, Keali’i Mamala