Life & Style Weekend - - COVER STORY - WORDS: AN­NIE CAUGHEY To sub­mit your film or to buy tick­ets to the May view­ing visit ocean­film­fes­ti­valaus­

The big blue. It’s the mys­te­ri­ous stretch of ocean con­sum­ing 70 per cent of the planet that both ex­cites and ter­ri­fies us. From un­der­wa­ter caves to the un­known depths of the ocean’s bot­tom, there is so much for us yet to dis­cover (about 95 per cent of it to be pre­cise).

Here on the Sun­shine Coast, it’s safe to say many res­i­dents have a strong con­nec­tion to the ocean. We surf it, kayak it, swim in it, kite­board it, scuba dive it or spend early morn­ings and late af­ter­noons sim­ply ad­mir­ing it. And one event hap­pen­ing on the Sun­shine Coast en­com­passes all of that love.

The Ocean Film Fes­ti­val World Tour – Aus­tralia com­mences its Noosa leg tonight. In its fifth year, the event show­cases a com­pi­la­tion of short films into a two-hour fea­ture which ex­plores many per­spec­tives of the ocean.

From scuba divers paint­ing un­der­wa­ter to surfers rid­ing frozen seas and ex­plor­ers chas­ing wild crocs in the mid­dle of the ocean – it’s a wild ride.

The Ocean Film Fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Jemima Ro­bi­son said she first started the event to con­nect au­di­ences with th­ese in­de­pen­dent and some­times low-bud­get film­mak­ers who had mag­nif­i­cent sto­ries to tell.

“I work in film fes­ti­vals and I see a lot of short films that never ever ac­tu­ally make it to TV or the big screen just be­cause they are small, in­de­pen­dent films and they don’t re­ally fit in with the time frame of big pro­duc­tions.

“I was start­ing to see a whole host of re­ally beau­ti­ful ocean films come through. I’m a re­ally pas­sion­ate ocean lover my­self and I know many Aus­tralians are as well.”

The fes­ti­val trav­els to 39 des­ti­na­tions around Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing six shows in Queens­land, and high­lights the many dif­fer­ent ways in which mankind co-ex­ists with the ocean, and how much we need it to sur­vive.

“The way that peo­ple in­ter­act with the ocean is re­ally dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on where you are. I grew up in Townsville so every­one there is snorkellin­g on the reef and div­ing. Whereas on the Sun­shine Coast, there’s amaz­ing surf, so peo­ple are out surf­ing. But one com­mon theme that brings every­one to­gether, is how the ocean makes them feel,” Jemima said.

Pro­duc­ers and film­mak­ers from all over the world sub­mit their en­tries for con­sid­er­a­tion and, let’s just say, the com­pe­ti­tion is tough.

“This year we’ve had over 300 en­trants and we are show­ing eight,” Jemima said.

“All of the ones we’ve cho­sen, for one rea­son or an­other, you’re to­tally drawn into them. For the en­tire length of the film, you are right there with them amongst the ac­tion.”

The film fes­ti­val part­ners with con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Sea Shep­erd and Project Aware Aus­tralia, both of which are tour­ing with the event, cam­paign­ing and sell­ing mer­chan­dise to raise funds.

A dol­lar from each ticket sale for the

Noosa show will be do­nated to Project

Aware, an or­gan­i­sa­tion fa­mous for its in­ter­na­tional cam­paign Dive Against De­bris. The project has so far seen more than 1,280,689 pieces of de­bris re­moved from the ocean by 191,804 divers across 180 coun­tries.

“For us, ev­ery year it’s re­ally im­por­tant, if we’re go­ing to show th­ese films and get peo­ple to love and pro­tect the ocean, that as soon as they walk out there’s a way for them to do it,” Jemima said.

“We al­ways in­vite one or two con­ser­va­tion agen­cies to the screen­ing, so, when peo­ple exit the film they can go straight up to their desk and go ‘okay what can I do’. It can be some­thing as sim­ple as sign­ing a pe­ti­tion, vol­un­teer­ing their time, pick­ing up rub­bish or do­nat­ing money.

“We re­ally want to have that tan­gi­ble link be­tween the au­di­ence and lo­cal con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

Jemima said en­tries were al­ready open for the 2020 world tour. She strongly en­cour­ages Sun­shine Coast film­mak­ers to get in­volved and sub­mit their films for con­sid­er­a­tion, so they can show­case the re­gion to the rest of the world.

“A lot of th­ese films take you to re­ally re­mote ar­eas around Aus­tralia that a lot of peo­ple haven’t been to or haven’t seen. It’s places that aren’t re­ally on your radar but now they are. It’s re­ally about ex­pand­ing peo­ple’s hori­zons,” Jemima said.

While tonight’s show is sold out, the

Ocean Film Fes­ti­val has an­nounced an en­core tour on May 17, when the fea­ture film will re-play at The J in Noosa.


ON SCREEN: The Ocean Film Fes­ti­val World Tour is com­ing to the Sun­shine Coast this week­end.

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