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Now Playing! Ocean Film Festival Equal Parts Spectacle and Reckoning

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Still from Chris Jordan's 'Albatross.' (Courtesy of the International Ocean Film Festival)

The water is getting higher, both literally and metaphorically. Will we face reality, and take responsibility? That’s the underlying challenge of so many of the wondrous movies from around the globe in the annual International Ocean Film Festival (Mar. 8-11 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason with stops at the Roxie and the Lark).

Consider the world premiere of photographer Chris Jordan’s conscience-raising Albatross, shot over a period of years on Midway Island in the vast North Pacific. Charting a course for the environmental documentary that transcends both nature travelogue and advocacy film, Albatross touches a part of us that only movies have the ability to access. (Check out the powerhouse trailer.)

Still from 'Kim Swims.'
Still from ‘Kim Swims.’ (Courtesy of the International Ocean Film Festival)

For those who appreciate human protagonists as much or more than winged characters, Touched by the Ocean (U.S. premiere) follows two ordinary Latvians on their quest to row across the South Atlantic. Closer to home and no less impressive, Kate Webber’s inspiring doc debut Kim Swims follows San Franciscan-by-way-of-New Zealand Kim Chambers’ recovery from a serious leg injury, culminating in her attempt to become the first woman to traverse the 30 miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate.

Persistence and inspiration are in ample supply at this year’s OIFF, plainly, and so is old-fashioned, eye-popping spectacle. Australian surf filmmaker Tim Boynthon delivers all the visceral thrills and righteous camaraderie you’d expect in a movie entitled The Big Wave Project. The International Ocean Film Festival invites us to get waterlogged on our terms, before the option is no longer ours.


The International Ocean Film Festival plays March 8-11 at the Cowell Theater and Roxie in San Francisco and the Lark Theater in Larkspur. For tickets and more information, click here.

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