Inspiring stories at Ocean Film Festival 2015
Last night the Ocean Film Festival visited Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre. I headed along with my friend Tina.
First, we enjoyed a campervan cooked bacon and egg roll near Inverleith Park. This turned out to be a brilliant budget-friendly option for an evening meal. It also felt a great deal more relaxed than trying to find a busy restaurant to squeeze us in for a pre-theatre meal. Happy campervan days!
Ocean Film Festival in Edinburgh
This festival was a first for both of us and we weren’t sure what to expect apart from “films inspired by the ocean”.
As you would imagine there was a lot about surfing. The Fisherman’s Son told the story of a Chilean boy (the fisherman’s son) who had found a broken surfboard and discovered he loved surfing.
He has gone on to become a world renowned “big wave” surfer. It was a nice tale of poor boy of fishing family turns acclaimed surfer
Poignantly, Ramon now has the ear of many bigwigs in Chile and campaigns to keep the coastline as naturally preserved and free of over-development as possible.
There was also a film about a six-year-old surfer girl, the Flying Squirrel. She was fairly cute and seemingly fearless. Her parents told us of her rough start in life with a difficult medical condition. Her coach told us she was “probably the best six-year-old surfer in the world”. Tina and I wondered how many world-class six-year-old surfers there are…
A stunning piece of cinematography held us spellbound in Arctic Swell, again about surfing but this time in sub-zero waters close to the Arctic Circle. It was the amazing backdrops of stunning skies and scenery that held us captivated.
Another film, The Fox of Bloody Woman Island promised an intriguing title. It didn’t really live up to this, however, and seemed almost spoof-like. The film was about a traditional boat builder who professed to love his life in northern Norway where the sun can’t be seen for two months.
We saw him swimming naked, practising yoga, building beautiful wooden boats and sailing around a fjord with his wife, both of them dressed in big Norwegian jumpers and hats. They also liked to play music together of an evening. It was all very, well, just, hmmm.. eccentric!
Only one film featured a woman. This one was called Ocean Minded. A record-breaking freediver Hanli had left behind the holding-your-breath sport to enjoy a better life swimming with sharks. (I thought: “How many of us would leave behind our lives to swim with wildlife?!”)
As with many of these films I was left wondering how she funds her incredible lifestyle. Perhaps this was her only trip of the year but I got the feeling she swam with wildlife pretty much every day.
It was impressive to watch her swimming without oxygen tanks and very close to some impressive shark species, as well as manta rays and dolphins. I wasn’t sure, however, about the many, many the hours of searching in a motorboat to find the sharks and dolphins but I guess that’s a question for another film.
Hanli also did a little too much navel gazing, which could have been more heavily edited in my opinion. She was also at pains to tell us all about her campaign to ensure that plastic bottles and general rubbish are removed from beaches. She leads volunteer groups to do this. I wasn’t sure how regularly she did this but there was an important message: Don’t throw away plastic because it doesn’t go away. It just ends up clogging up beaches.
This was a good film, especially as it included a woman, but I would have been happy viewing her swimming with underwater wildlife. Full stop.
And then there was the best film of the evening by far: Devocean. It was also the longest at 40 minutes. South African born Bruno has spent most of his life in or on the water. In 1998, he was involved in a carjacking incident which left him paralysed from the waist down. (He had been travelling with a woman but there was no mention of what happened to her. It wasn’t part of the main story but I do wonder…)
Bruno plunged from carefree surf guide, sailor, scuba diver and traveller to being so depressed he tried to commit suicide. In fact, he tells how he went into the ocean to try to drown himself but found that he couldn’t sink. Then, by chance, a small wave zoomed him on his board back to shore and he suddenly realised he wanted to live, not die.
This is a crass summarisation of his story and one that he tells in the film at length and with honesty, compassion, frankness and humour. The film follows Bruno as he takes on his new life “legless” (as he calls it) and re-embraces the ocean. He genuinely feels he is meant to be in the ocean as much as possible and that is when he is most alive and without disability.
Again, I was left wondering how he funds his wonderful life of swimming, boats trips, hanging out in Bali etc but the essence of the story was inspiring and uplifting.
It was the film that Tina and I talked most about and both of us took away an important message about being upbeat about life, whatever it throws at you.
The evening was enjoyable and I’d recommend you head along if you can. There are 10 more tour dates in England for 2015 and the tour returns to Scotland in2016. Ocean Film Festival 2015 tour dates.