The International Ocean Film Fest (IOFT), Volume 3 – Coast to Coast. 120 minutes. 7 stories about the sea, presented by Warren Miller and Keen, came to Boulder’s “Gordon Gamm Theater” at the Dairy Arts Center Thursday, May 19th.  Touted as “the ultimate film event for all ocean lovers,” my wife and I attended the sold out showing to see for ourselves, as this was the first year that the Festival has been in North America.

IOFT – Hola Sunshine

Hola Sunshine was the first film featured, and also one of the shortest.  It follows surfer Leila Hurst as she displays her surfing prowess, sporting beautiful scenery and pleasent narration, this was a nice way to kick-off the festival.

IOFT – The Edge

There’s been a lot of news lately about the health and importance of sharks in our oceans, and The Edge aims at portraying these fierce yet graceful creatures in a new light.  Joe Romeiro has been fascinated with sharks his whole life, and with this film, has made a significant effort towards a better understanding of these beautiful animals.

IOFT – Born To

Ocean Ramsey, a marine biologist from Oahu, has the unusual skill of freediving.  “Freediving, free-diving, or free diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on divers’ ability to hold their breath until resurfacing rather than on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear.”  Ocean has devoted her life to this endeavor, incorporating specialized training strategies in order to maximize her underwater time.  She has devoted her life to the better understanding and well-being of sharks, and has founded her own marine research and conservatory center.  From her website: “Scientists estimate that over the past 50 years, 90% of the world’s shark population has disappeared. We believe that in capturing and exhibiting images of sharks and humans interacting peacefully and intimately, we can help change the way people think about sharks. In doing so, we hope to promote sharks as they really are: amazing, beautiful, and important animals that need to be protected.

IOFT – The Other Shore

Probably my least favorite, and longest duration film of the evening, The Other Shore profiles marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, and her quest to come out of 31 years of retirement to complete the un-swam stretch from Cuba to Florida’s Key West. After 4 failed attempts and at the age of 64, she gave it one final try and made it.  She suffered horrific jelly fish stings and rough weather, which contributed to her failed attempts however, I found it painful to watch this woman seemingly torture herself to accomplish her goal.

This film was followed by a short intermission and numerous prizes/giveaways from the various sponsors, including Keen, Warren Miller, LL Bean, Yeti Coolers, and others.

IOFT – Sonic Sea

“The deafening deep” takes viewers on an enlightening journey towards better understanding how noise pollution causes incessant stress for whales and other marine life, and “leads to devastating mass strandings.” “A single stranding occurs when one dolphin, whale, porpoise, or seal comes ashore by itself dead or alive and in need of intervention. A mass stranding is an event where two or more dolphins or whales (other than a mother/calf pair) strand at the same time in close proximity to one another.”  This was by far the most powerful film of the evening.  Narrated by former US Navy Officer Daniel Hinerfeld, the sad story is described and efforts to combat the noise are highlighted, including the potential use of new underwater sonar technology, as well as adapted ships propellers aimed as lessing the noise.  This film made my wife and I both cry.

Note:  the full length version of this film was aired on the Discovery Channel May 19th, and should be available On Demand.

IOFT – My Own Private Monster

Alastair McCleod, an Australian wind surfer, set out to accomplish something that no one had previously done:  windsurf the monster.  The monster, “Tasmania’s Shipstern Bluff, attracts daredevil surfers with lure of massive waves and worldwide fame.”  Alastair sough out the expertise of a famous surfer who helped him plan the event, which required a 40 kilometer windsurf from the southern end of South Africa to the Bluff.  His first try did not work out as the winds were not cooperative, however, on the second attempt, history was made, as Allastair wind surfed some of the most treacherous and feared ocean locations on earth.

IOFT – View from a Blue Moon

View from a blue moon chronicles 23 year old Hawaiian native John Florence as he overtakes the surfing world from Kelly Slater to become the worlds #1 ranked surfer.  This film features breathtaking scenery from the earths greatest surfing destinations and showcases Florence’s extraordinary talent.