Earth Day means the annual Alaska Ocean Film Festival is back in Seldovia.
“Of course we live on the water and some of [our livelihoods] depend on the quality and health of our waters. We consume a good part of our diet from our waters. The majority of us are interested in conservation and keeping our oceans healthy for the next generations to come," said event organizer Tania Spurkland. "So, just as it is in Homer, we’re a perfect place to have an ocean film festival and keep ourselves informed about all the threats.”
Each year the festival has a loose theme. This year there will be several short films, a handful of presentations, and one feature-length film, called “Sea of Change: Ocean Acidification."
“And it focuses on ocean acidification, so as a marine biologist, that’s the topic that I thought would be timely and appropriate to bring to the community this year," Spurkland said. "Last year we focused more on the great garbage patch and the problem with all the plastic wastes that are inundating the oceans.”
When the event first started, Spurkland was working on her dissertation in marine biology at the School of Fisheries in Fairbanks.
At that time, she said it was put on by the Alaska Center for the Environment in Anchorage. They had a festival they’d tour around the state.
“And I think the second year we went to it, I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if you go to small communities like Seldovia, but would you be willing to send us the festival and let us screen it for a fee?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ And so, I don’t remember if it was a year or two but we had the opportunity to screen their festival, and then the Alaska Center for the Environment quit doing it," she said.
That’s when Spurkland took over the reins and made it a locally-produced event for Seldovia.
Each year, she finds films that she thinks would be interesting to the community. She taps other festivals and local filmmakers for their talent.
For example, she’ll be screening a few short films that were already part of the Alaska Oceans Observing Systems Coast and Ocean Film Festival. One features the long swim of a polar bear and the other looks at fish consumption in Alaska Native communities.
Locals may recognize the scenery in another short piece filmed in Kachemak Bay featuring advanced otter-cam technology.
“Which is kind of the new and upcoming thing in terms of being able to have a robotic otter that mingles with the real otters and has cameras aboard it that are able to get shots that you wouldn’t normally be able to have," she said. "So, we have a short portion of that program which is called Spy in the Wild: Sea Otters, and it’s taken off of Schooner Beach and Seldovia Bay.”
There will also be a screening of Bjorn Olson’s film “Icy Bay Mega-Tsunami” and a couple of shorts by Fred Olivier.
The festival will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Susan B. English School. Admission is free.