Schedule & Films

Big Blue Film Fest Schedule

January 26 – 27, 2024


2024 Ticket Pricing-at-a-Glance

Buy A Ticket Here

  • Opening Night Social and Films: $20
  • An Individual Film Block: $15 for adults and $12 for students and OCCA
  • All Access Pass (includes all films and the Opening Night Social): $55

Film Blocks & Breaks

The festival is broken down into blocks, with an hour's break given between each block. This allows you to grab food, explore our fantastic building or poke around the lovely city of Newport. There will be food and drink (alcohol and non-alcohol) for purchase, as well as t-shirt and sticker sales! (cash only).

Opening Night Social, Friday, January 26, 5:15 - 8 PM

This first showing includes a reception and films at Hatfield's Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building (GVMSB) in the Carmen Ford Phillips Auditorium. Complementary food and drinks are available. Awards will be presented to the winning filmmakers. We will also be showing the following films, which will also be playing on Saturday.

Understanding Hypoxia: Dead Zones on the Pacific Coast (14.17 min.) This film looks at these hypoxic events on the West Coast and examines the impacts on communities affected and the scientists looking at solutions. Film by David Baker.

Best Student Filmmaker | Creatures of the Kaleidoscope (18.25 min.) Cuttlefish are one of nature’s most magical creatures. Discover how they use their color-changing and shape-shifting abilities to survive and thrive in the open ocean. Film by Hannah Jodie Alexander.

Best Film Award | Disappearing Jewels (15 min.) Remembering the filmmaker’s grandfather, a blind man and walking weather forecast, Will Kim interviews ocean experts and brings his perspective on the impact of climate change and ocean warming. Film by Will Kim.

Saturday, January 27

On the festival's second day, we will be showing films in the GVMSB Carmen Ford Phillips Auditorium at Hatfield and at the Newport Performing Arts Center. Films will be shown in two-hour blocks. Below are lists of blocks and summaries of the films showing at each location.

Hatfield Marine Science Center Film Blocks

The Kelp Keepers by Anna Lueck - Student Film - (8.18 min) Kelp forests are essential to a healthy ocean, serving as habitat, storm break, carbon sink, and food source all in one. However, like so many other essential habitats, these forests are rapidly declining. This film introduces us to Dave Lacey, a Port Orford-based outfitter who was among the first to notice kelp forests collapsing on the South coast of Oregon, as well as the civilian divers now working to survey these sites before it’s too late.

Otter Rock Marine Reserve - Where Science and Stewardship Meet by Marilyne Coblentz and Michael Sherman (11.20 min) At just 1.2 square miles, Otter Rock Marine Reserve is the smallest of five designated sites along the Oregon Coast where no fishing or ocean development is allowed. This mini yet mighty marine reserve provides a unique and nutrient-rich habitat in which an amazing mosaic of wildlife thrives. Take a tour with us and hear about how Otter Rock Marine Reserve contributes a wealth of value to scientific research, the economy, and conservation efforts.

Art for Sea to Sky by Molly Dennis (18.52 min) Exploring the inspiration and method behind the work of Bowen Island artist Di. We follow her journey in creating her latest show, Art for Sea to Sky, which celebrates the nature and landscape on her doorstep.

Fair Seas: the Atlantic Northwest by Natasha Phillips (14.20 min) Life along the northwest Irish coastline is constantly moved and shaped by the wild green waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. Below the waves, the life and color of the underwater world await. By exploring these hidden gems of Ireland, the wildlife and seascapes hidden beneath the surface, and how these waters are now at risk, this film explores the stunning Irish coastline through the eyes of those who know it best. Voices from local coastal communities explore their close connection to the ocean, sharing their stories, hopes, and fears and how marine protections offer new hope for a brighter future for our natural world.

The Arctic Halocline by Amy Lauren (20.32 min) This film tells the story of the groundbreaking discoveries made by an international research program that has been monitoring the state of the Arctic Ocean continuously for the past 20 years. In 2004, scientists observed the start of a decades-long warming trend in the eastern Arctic Ocean. A gradient of salty to fresh water known as the Arctic halocline blocks the heat carried by the Atlantic water layer from reaching the sea ice. The stability of the Arctic halocline is weakening. As it destabilizes, it releases the heat contained in the Atlantic layer to the bottom of the sea ice. This heat is enough to melt the Arctic sea ice cover several times over. Once the halocline destabilizes, it cannot be reversed.

Returning Home by Andreas Dimitriou (9.48 min) A film about the marine protected areas in Limassol, Cyprus.

  Best Student Filmmaker Award
Creatures of the Kaleidoscope by Hannah Jodie Alexander - Student Film -
(18.25) Exploring one of nature's most magical creatures, the cuttlefish. Discover how they use their color-changing and shape-shifting abilities to survive and thrive in the open ocean.

The Ocean's Greatest Feast by Danielle Govender (50 min) Every winter, South Africa's east coast sees billions of sardines converge in the biggest biomass migration on the planet. As they move up the coast, this four-mile-long shoal faces a range of predators, from seals in an ancient colony to Cape gannets launching aerial attacks and hundreds of hungry sharks that corral the sardines into bait balls. A super pod of dolphins arrives, and the sardine numbers are decimated. Everything favors the predators until the Orcas come.

Rocky Intertidal Zones by Irene Tejaratchi Hess (3.20 min) From the Neskowin Ghost Forest to the Devil's Punch Bowl, a young boy explores the rocky intertidal zones of the Oregon Coast. Traveling with toys and art materials, he offers insights on the tide pool ecosystem, as well as on prehistoric life. Music by Colleen aka Cécile Schott.

Observing for a Future by Fiona Cummings, Nathan Flood and Ravenna Talaga - Student Film - (5.06 min) This is a short documentary about the work of NOAA's West Coast Groundfish Observer Program headquartered in Newport, Oregon. This film was made as part of OMSI Camp Gray Coastal Documentary Explorers Camp 2023. The film was produced as a collaboration between OMSI, NW Documentary and NOAA.

Guardian of the Sea Lions by Stephanie Guest and Shania Riethmann - Student Film - (3.25 min) This film is centered around Janet Ledingham, an 83-year-old woman who voluntarily collects data on sea lions, a nationally vulnerable species, for the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust. It is both informative and inspiring as we learn about Janet’s passion for sea lions and her role in caring for her local population. The film will make you come to appreciate both Janet and the sea lions as Janet tells her story."

  Most Inspiring Film Award

Keeper of the Bay by Ashley LoFaso (63 min) This documentary film is about marine conservation through the eyes of a native Hawaiian woman as she struggles to continue a family bay-keeping legacy.

Newport Performing Arts Center Film Blocks

Echoes From The Blue Meadow by Héctor Hernández - Student Film - (11.00 min) Motivated by the dream of being a marine biologist, Itzel is the first Mexican researcher to be part of the Gulf Listen international network for acoustic monitoring of cetaceans. Through anecdotes and experiences, she will immerse us in a fascinating tour of her profession. With first-class marine photographers, and a sound mastering by Grammy nominee, Simon Gibson (The Hobbit, The Beatles: Get Back), Echoes From the Blue Meadow is an audiovisual experience that will make you live how exciting, risky, and amazing the world of marine biology is.

The Perfect Shot: Antarctica by Quinn Halleck (10.20 min) This film is an inventive and captivating documentary that profiles award-winning fine art photographer Artem Shestakov as he attempts to photograph the most remote locations on the planet affected by the climate crisis.

Quahoggers: Rhode Island’s Iconic Shellfishermen by David Helfer Wells (14.54 min) Spend time offshore with some unique characters, Rhode Island’s legendary Quahoggers. These shellfishermen dig clams up from the mud of Narraganset Bay by hand, using metal rakes and brute strength, a process that evolved as a unique response to Narraganset Bay’s ecosystem. We meet three long-time Quahoggers and go on their boats as they practice their centuries-old craft. Speaking with uniquely Rhode Island accents, they highlight the rewards of being a Quahogger, with its high degree of autonomy and the pleasures as well as the challenges of working outdoors. They also discuss the process of Quahogging and their worries for the future.

Women Captains by Phil Comeau (52 min) Marilyn fishes lobster with her father and dreams of becoming a captain herself. She meets other determined women captains who encourage her. But, when her husband suddenly dies in an accident, she becomes a single mother and questions her dream.

Way of Life by Descendant Productions (8.41 min) This ocean-based documentary is shot in Koh Tao, Thailand. The film explores the history of Koh Tao, and its people's deep, yet changing connection to the ocean and the underwater world. The story focuses on the incredible reef conservation and restoration work local groups and businesses have been engaged in for the last 15 years, in efforts to alleviate pressure off their natural coral reefs, which have suffered from Koh Tao's recent surge in popularity. The film explores the reef restoration methods Koh Tao residents have employed to protect their way of life.

Antarctica by Justin Reid Smith (10.27 min) Scientists explore the vast world beneath the frozen ocean ice in Antarctica to unlock the secrets essential to enduring climate change.

Eyes on the Seafloor by Natasha Benjamin (11.08 min) You can't protect what you can't see. Eyes on the Seafloor will take you on a journey below the surface of the ocean with Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE) to explore and document never-before-seen areas. With a fleet of underwater submersibles, MARE explores deep ocean environments to support scientific research and education. Diving down to depths of 1,000 meters, the MARE Team collects data to inform ocean management in our changing oceans.

How to Grow an Island by Ryan W Vachon (20.43 min) Geology moves slowly; at least that is what some of us learned in school. But this is not always the case. A diverse team of scientists, led by Dr. Lizzy Trower, a University of Colorado Boulder geologist, try to solve the mystery behind how a Caribbean island is growing out of the ocean, beating out modern sea level rise. While this is a story of scientific discovery, it is a reminder that all big efforts, few as outstanding as climate change, will require people coming together with our differences - different perspectives, needs and solutions.

  Best In Education Award

Be Blue by Daniel Miranda Silva (22.18 min) This short documentary film showcases an educational project about the importance of preserving our oceans. This film was created in collaboration with Project To Be Schools, an educational initiative dedicated to teaching children about the importance of sustainability and how to interact with nature in a more balanced way. Be Blue is an innovative and creative way to educate and inform our youth about the importance of preserving the environment. It is a project that brought together local artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and athletes to raise awareness around the urgent need to protect our oceans and provide a unique perspective on ocean conservation. We invite you to watch Be Blue and join us in our efforts to create a better future.

A’ai by Kalie Granier (5 min) The first film in the Esselen language in which a pelican on the shore is announcing the funeral dance of its kelp forest to an Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation woman. This project illustrates communication and collaboration between living species. Plants, animals and human beings, all inhabitants of the Earth, together, all in search of our survival in the Anthropocene, a time when 90% of the kelp forest of California has disappeared, together aware of our interdependent existence. This communication is in rhizome* to lead to an evolution of environmental consciousness. It is a narrative about a marine ecosystem in danger, narrated by a pelican calling for help. Will we be able to protect the seaweed which we all depend on to survive? Together, the kelp forest, the pelican, and the Native American woman weave a sensitive relationship of trust to spread the ocean’s warning. The sharing of ecological knowledge is an important response to the crises in which our lives are entangled.

Just Beneath the Surface by Jimmy John Thaiday (5.09 min) On a fishing trip, a man struggles with a strange and menacing ocean. Will he fight against nature's forces, or submit to its power? Jimmy John Thaiday discusses how his culture, living on Erub, directly informs the themes of the film: The ocean is always changing, shifting, and moving. Like all creatures, we are affected by the forces that shape the ocean. The tides, waves, wind, and currents of the ocean bring us food and shape our culture. The earth's power gives new life to sustain us all, but we must show more care. The ocean is mysterious - many secrets lie just beneath the surface. We must respect the ocean's power; it can provide for us but also take life away. I am exploring the way the ocean creates cycles of life, death, and rebirth. Important moments in our lives push and pull us like the water If we resist these forces, life can be tough, and we can suffer. When we let go and accept that life is like nature, it is constantly changing, both for good and bad. If we understand this, then we can let nature take its course, and things will be in balance.

Life on the Edge - Exploring New Jersey's Coastal Ecosystems by Angela Catt, Micah Seidel, Natalie Radu - Student Film - (14.36 min) (Student Film) Horseshoe crabs have been on the planet for 450 million years, but when rack and bag oyster farms are built in the same waters the horseshoe crabs travel through, scientists must investigate whether the crabs can still complete their life cycle. This is a story about researchers, farmers, and conservationists working together to preserve crucial New Jersey coastal ecosystems while maintaining sustainable food production in Delaware Bay.

Understanding Hypoxia: Dead Zones on the Pacific Coast by David Baker (14.17 min) Low oxygen events have been occurring with greater frequency around the world as the climate changes. This film looks at these hypoxic events on the West Coast and examines the impacts on communities affected and the scientists looking at solutions.

  Best Film Award

Disappearing Jewels by Will Kim (15 min) Remembering the filmmaker's grandfather, who was a blind man and walking weather forecast, Will Kim interviews ocean experts and brings his perspective on the impact of climate change and ocean warming.

Bound by the Ocean by Paul Lavoine (30 min) This documentary takes place in Teahupo'o, a small village in French Polynesia. Five surfers share their perception of the ocean, a place where they find food, fun, friendship and home.



A map of the Newport area showing Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Newport Performing Arts Center and the Hallmark Resort.

Hatfield GVMSB Carmen Ford Phillips Auditorium

  • Seating is limited to 250 people.
  • Parking for the event is free. The lots are adjacent to the GVMSB. See this map of the Hatfield campus.
  • Food and drinks will be available for purchase in the lobby of the GVMSB and can be eaten in the auditorium.

Newport Performing Arts Center

  • Seating is limited
  • Food and drinks will be available for purchase and allowed in the theater.