Have you ever experienced something so powerful that somehow it shifted your entire perspective? That is what happened to me when I attended the Waimea Ocean Film Festival two weeks ago. I can’t believe at the age of almost 50 I have never gone to a film festival before. Maybe because I have not given myself the time to take the drive, sit in the theater and listen to film makers discuss their work. After doing just that on Thursday evening, January 8th and most of the day Friday, January 9th, at the Four Seasons, I want to kick myself for not doing it sooner. Maybe it was about timing. My daughter, who is 13 years old and my son, who is 10, were able to join me this year, where they may have been too young to fully appreciate it before now. Both of them, along with myself, found indelible pieces of joy, information, inspiration, and motivation during those two days.
The blend of watching the films, gleaning the messages and the overarching themes from the films and hearing the filmmaker’s discuss their motivations and challenges made me think about what I had heard, seen and experienced for days after the Festival. I went to Oahu and jumped in the ocean at Kailua, even when I thought it was too cold to go in, but I had to swim after seeing the films of the people enjoying the ocean in one of my favorite films of the Festival, “What the Sea Gives Me” by film maker Pierce Kavanaugh. (Winter in Kona has consistently produced big waves, so I have not been swimming in Kona lately!) My daughter had a chance to ask Pierce questions during the Q&A and so did I after the show was over. Meeting him, talking about collaboration and artistry in film was the high point of my experience. I also had a chance to meet and talk with Alison Teal, of Alison’s Adventures and she gave my daughter advice about finding her own creative path in life. How many opportunities do you get to give your children that kind of exposure to role models?
As a resident of Kona, on an island in the middle of the ocean, learning more about conservation, the state of the ocean environment, sustainability and voyaging helped expand my mind to what matters and what SHOULD matter to most of us. My children said it was sad watching how the oceans are being overfished and polluted, but were delighted when Alison Teal said she was working on cleaning up the plastics near the island that she was filmed on for the “Naked and Afraid” TV show. They could see that although there are challenges, there are also champions.
Kudos to the Executive Director of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival, Tania Howard. Each of the filmmakers mentioned how tirelessly she had worked to make the Festival come together so successfully. I agree. I will definitely be attending next year and will make more time on my schedule to see more of the films. My life has been touched forever.