The Ocean Film Festival 2018 tour made its always friendly and welcome return to The Festival Theatre Edinburgh with a programme of films that as always left me in two completely different frames of mind. On the one hand endless amazement at the wonders of nature out there, and on the other hand, utter despair at what we are doing as a human race to that wonder. As always, the films in this year’s festival run from short to long and from stories of those who live to enjoy and conserve this beautiful planet to dire warnings of impending ecological disaster.
On our programme this evening were the following films
THE BIG WAVE PROJECT – Extreme surfers out there in eternal search of the biggest waves that they can find to surf.
TOUCHED BY THE OCEAN - Two Latvian friends who embark upon an ocean adventure that they are woefully inexperienced to even think about attempting.
KIWI BREEZE – One man’s dream to build his own boat in his own garden then sail it 24,000 nautical miles back home to his native New Zealand. Nine years of building (his neighbours must have been very patient and supportive) his dream boat and an incredible journey ahead of him.
BLUE – A grim view of the reality of global marine pollution that should be included in educational programmes in schools everywhere.
SCARLET'S TALE – How one man’s encounter with a shark (named by him Scarlet) resulted in the loss of his leg, somehow led to him finding inside him the inner strength not only to adjust to his physical loss, but use the experience to change his life and achieve many new goals.
ONE BREATH – An exploration into the connection with the ocean and its inhabitants in a way that only free divers can experience.
ADVENTURE IS CALLING – A short but wonderful film that gives us a glimpse into the different world that lies mostly unseen below the waters of our oceans.
All of these films are as usual covered in more detail on the Ocean Film Festival website at https://www.oceanfilmfestival.co.uk/films so I will, as usual, use this review space to highlight some of the main aspects of this year’s films that for many reasons interested me the most.
There is always an ecological and conservational element to this festival, and for me, “Blue” is the one that brought the grim message to the audience tonight of what we all as consumers have done to this planet and its eco systems and in particular its ocean/sea systems and the marine life within and around them, and it will stay in my mind for a long time after this festival. We now have a world where our life giving oceans are in danger of imminent ecological collapse due to a combination of global warming (and we have a huge part to play in that issue) and pollution from the discarded waste of our modern society. Top of that list, is our love affair with plastics in all their many forms and the effects the indiscriminate disposal of that product is having on a global scale.
Watching “Blue” we witness the heartbreaking world of marine birds who have stomachs full of indigestible plastics (often large and sharp pieces) that have made their way into the ocean and their food chain. Parent birds (themselves full of this plastic) are unknowingly feeding their young this lethal food mixture. Here we watch a film where 100% of marine birds have ingested plastics that they cannot get rid of, the equivalent often of 10 kilos of plastics in a human body. What’s the issue with a few birds you might say? Nature re-uses everything, and it is the birds’ droppings that are the natural organic fertiliser for the plant life and forests that they fly over; everything is inter-connected in some fashion with something else. We also witness the never ending battle to deal with discarded “ghost” fishing nets as they wash up along remote shorelines. Along their journey, these nets entrap and kill marine life in unimaginable numbers, with turtles being one of the main casualties.
Plastics are everywhere now in the food chain, and now in our human food chain with micro plastics now common in much of what we eat from our oceans and even sea rock salt.
From the brochure, here are a few grim facts from “Blue”
- Half of all marine life has been lost in the last 40 years
- By 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish
We are balancing on an ecological precipice at the moment and unless we all accept our responsibilities to this planet, nature, and our eco systems, the outcome is not good. For some societies without the wealth of developed nations, that ecological collapse has already happened. With this in mind, it was good to see Ocean Film Festival and The Festival Theatre doing a small thing tonight and not having any plastic cups or glasses used for drinks, only washable glass ones. There are always other areas to look at too. Glossy full colour brochures may be nice to have and to hold, but brilliant white paper comes with a heavy ecological price and modern printing inks often contain plastics in them. A little sad to think too that in a world where plastics are such an environmental issue that we are also now using “plastics” for printing our currency notes on.
Our world and its eco-system has reached such a crisis that only a complete re-think of our own mind set and how we consume our planetary resources and dispose of them is now needed. Recycling has its part to play, but not consuming in the first place will have an even bigger impact. Sadly in a world where our global economic systems depend on not only never ending, but always increasing consumption of goods (often with no useful purpose at all), and the employment issues surrounding this global consumption, there is a limit to what individuals can do, but unless it is done, there will be little for us to pass onto future generations apart from the our legacy of destruction. Sad to think that many of the children who were in the audience tonight will never know many of the wonders of nature that live beneath our oceans, or fly in the sky above them.
If The Ocean Film Festival teaches us anything, it is that nature and everything living on this planet is a wonderful inter connected experience. Sadly, we as humans pretend that we understand how this delicate balance works, and the perilous state of our planetary eco system simply highlights that at best we have the tiniest grasp of how it truly works. Nature is screaming at us now with a warning that we all ignore at our peril and to our eventual personal costs.
Ocean’s sister film festival - Banff Mountain Film Festival returns to The Festival Theatre on Saturday 19th January 2019, so put a little note in your diaries for this one too.
Review by Tom King