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SF International Ocean Film Festival

Short Films to Raise Awareness About Ocean-Related Issues

The 14th Annual San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival will be held March 9 - 12, 2017.

This unique festival features dozens of independent pieces (including documentaries, narratives, shorts, and animations) from around the world. All works focus on raising awareness around ocean-related issues with social, environmental, and cultural significance.

ocean film festival

All films show at the Cowell Theater at the Fort Mason Center near Fisherman's Wharf.

One of my favorites every year is the program on sharks. These amazing creatures fascinate me and it's fun to learn more about them. You will find this program on Saturday night starting at 7pm.

Surfing fans can watch several short films during the Surfing Program each year. Last year's top films on this theme included Stoked Steves, A Small Surfer Makes Big Waves, and Rail to Rail.

Each year, the festival also offers films that made it to the final round of the student competition. This year, you can see these films on Sunday morning starting at 10am.

2017 Ocean Film Festival Schedule

Note: The festival is currently selecting its films for 2017. Check out last year's list below to get an idea of the depth and variety offered.

2016 Schedule
Thursday, March 10 Program 1 - 4:00pm
  • Beneath Wallace's Line (USA), Nick and Cheryl Dean, 19 min
  • Two Miles Deep (USA), James Toomey, 27 min
  • Little Ray of Hope (Australia), Mark Jones, 11 min
  • Life on the Reef (Australia), Nick Robinson, 56 min
Friday, March 11 Program 2 - 1:00pm
  • Whale Sharks of the Maldives (Australia), Ashley Kelly, 17 min
  • A Plastic Sea (USA), Justin Lewis & Michelle Stauffer, 12 min
  • A Love Affair (USA), Nick and Cheryl Dean, 5 min
  • The Legend of the Great Auk (USA), Rachel Price, 5 min
  • Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South (USA), Dena Seidel, 72 min - Winner: 2016 Ocean Science Award
Program 3 - 4:00pm
  • Ocean Stories: Greg Stone (USA), Patrick Creadon, 31 min
  • Home at Dawn (Peru), Billy Silva & Guille Isa, 5 min
  • The Weekend Sailor (Mexico), Bernardo Arsuago, 75 min - Winner: 2016 Director's Award

Program 4, Surfing Program - 10:00am

  • Stoked Steves (USA), Stephen Emery, 3 min
  • A Small Surfer Makes Big Waves (Australia), Scott Gamble, 7 min
  • El Chino (USA), Max Esposito, 12 min
  • Rail to Rail (Australia), Joel Sharpe, 5 min
  • Great Highway: Journey to the Soul of San Francisco Surfing (USA), Mark Gunson, 88 min - Winner: 2016 Golden Gate Award
Saturday, March 12 Program 5 - 10:00am
  • The Fantastic Fur of Sea Otters (USA), Josh Cassidy, 3 min
  • Domoic Acid Attack (USA), Steve Segal, Lesley Wisley-Padien, & David Feiten, 3 min
  • Santa Cruz del Islote (USA), Luke Lorentzen, 19 min
  • Whale Aware (USA), Lauren Gilbertson, 8 min
  • I am Morgan: Stolen Freedom (New Zealand), Heiko Grimm, Carlos Godo Borras, & Irene Buesa Garcia, 5 min
  • Fish (Iran), Saman Hosseinpuor, 4 min
  • Sonic Sea (USA), Michelle Dougherty & Daniel Hinerfeld, 55 min - Winner: 2016 Environment Award
Program 6, Shark Program - 7:00pm
  • Changing Seas – Grand Cayman’s Famous Stingrays (USA), Alexa Elliott, 27 min
  • FINconceivable (USA), Lily Williams, 4 min - Winner: 2016 Animation Award
  • Cute Sharks on the Hook in Borneo (Malaysia), Aaron Bertie Geronski , 8 min
  • How Do Sharks and Rays Use Electricity to Find Hidden Prey? (USA), Josh Cassidy, 4 min
  • Shark Shepherd (Canada), Benjamin Von Wong, 2 min
  • On the Brink: Uncharted Waters (USA), Vincent Soberano, 54 min - Winner: 2016 Conservation Award
Panel Discussion 1 - 3:30pm Art & Action: Communicating Conservation Through Media, Free and open to the public.
Program 7, Sustainable Seafood Program - 4:00pm
  • Saving Our Tuna (Australia), Patrick Fries, 23 min
  • Thailand’s Seafood Slaves (UK), Environmental Justice Foundation, 14 min
  • Restoring Hope (USA), John Antonelli, 4 min
  • Of the Sea (USA), Mischa Hedges, 56 min
Panel Discussion 2 - 5:30pm Sustainable Seafood, Free and open to the public.
Program 8 - 7:00pm
  • Zoe and Her Adventures (Italy), Tassos Kouvelis, 3 min
  • Speechless – The Polar Realm (New Zealand), Richard Sidey, 44 min - Winner: 2016 Wildlife Award
  • You Are Not Hallucinating. That's Just Squid Skin (USA), Josh Cassidy , 3 min
  • SILA and the Gatekeepers of the Arctic (USA), Corina Gamma, 70 min - Winner: 2016 Coastal Culture Award
Sunday, March 13 Program 9, Student Competition - 10:00am Presented by Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Free Program: RSVP on Eventbrite
Program 10, Canadian Program - 1:00pm
  • Tallurutiup Tariunga - Lancaster Sound (Canada), Carlyle Paetkau, Christopher Paetkau, Trevor Gill, 4 min
  • Reaching Blue: Finding Hope Beneath the Surface (Canada), Ian Hinkle & Andy Robertson, 45 min
  • The Cook, the Hunter, the Whales and Their Watchers (Canada), Gord More* & Steve De Neef, 5 min
  • The Hand of Franklin (Canada), Frank Wolf, 52 min - Winner: 2016 Adventure Award
Program 11 - 4:00pm
  • Changing Seas – The Secret Sex Life of Fish (USA), Alexa Elliott, 27 min
  • The Great Wide Open (Ireland), Ciarán Dooley, 10 min - Winner: 2016 Short Award
  • We Live Underwater (Germany), Hendrik S. Schmitt, 7 min - Winner: 2016 Innovation Award
  • Reflections of an Underwater Cameraman (Ireland), Ken O'Sullivan 5 min
  • Ocean Driven (USA), Nadia Tarlow , Adrian Charles, 55 min

*Filmmaker is expected for post-screening Q&A

Tips to Get to the Ocean Film Festival

The SF International Ocean Film Festival is in the Cowell Theater at the Fort Mason Center. You will find several SF Muni stops nearby.

Buses: The best buses for the Fort Mason Center are the 19, 28, 30, 47, 49, 90, and 91.

F Streetcar: The F Streetcar runs from Fisherman's Wharf to the Castro District. It's an easy and fun way to get from Union Square, the Castro, or other centrally located districts to Fisherman's Wharf. From here, you can walk over to the Fort Mason Center.

Powell/Mason Cable Car: Another unique option from Union Square is the cable car. The final stop for the Powell/Mason line drops you off about 4 blocks from Fort Mason. The cost is $7 per person each way.

Taxi: You can also take a taxi from anywhere in the city over to the Ocean Film Festival. This is an easy option, but the also the most expensive. Fares start at just over $3. A ride from Union Square will cost around $15. Expect to pay around $20 or more from most other parts of San Francisco.

Restaurant Recommendations Nearby

If you want to grab some lunch or dinner either before or after the International Ocean Film Festival, you will find plenty of options. Here are just a few of my favorites in Fisherman's Wharf, right next to the Fort Mason Center.

Taylor Street Vendors: Grab a fresh fish sandwich from one of several small, local vendors on Taylor Street at Jefferson Street near the large Fisherman's Wharf sign.

Boudin Bakery: Enjoy some yummy clam chowder as you stare out over the waters of the SF Bay at their restaurant at 160 Jefferson Street.

Buena Vista Cafe: Spend time in one of SF's most famous cafes where the Irish Coffee was introduced to the US. They have amazing fresh crab dishes as well as classic American meals. They are on the corner of Hyde and Beach Streets.

Pier 39: You will find a large selection of places to grab a bite to eat on Pier 39. Choose from popular American cuisine at the Hard Rock Cafe or head upstairs for a more upscale experience at Neptune Waterfront Bar & Grill.

Other Things to See in Fisherman's Wharf

There are several other fun things to see and do in Fisherman's Wharf. Click here for a list of the most popular attractions and activities, including a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay, a stroll through the historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier, and shopping at Ghirardelli Square.

Other SF Film Festivals

In addition to the International Ocean Film Festival, you will find almost 50 other film festivals each year in San Francisco. Click here for a complete list of film festivals, including dates, times, and schedules for all upcoming events.

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