Blue Water Film Festival lineup to feature local filmmakers


Two films by North County filmmakers are part of the lineup at the Blue Water Film Festival June 2-5, with screenings in multiple locations and online in commemoration of World Oceans Day.

Festival flyer

There are 35 films total that will be screened at venues including the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas, Museum of Photography in Balboa Park and Media Arts Center in downtown San Diego in addition to the festival’s virtual component.

For the record:

2:41 a.m. May 31, 2022The outdoor screening of “Whale Wisdom” on June 4 will be held at Freedom Boat Club and the Media Arts Center is located in downtown. The original article misstated the name and location of the venues, respectively.

Howard and Michele Hall, who live in Del Mar and have combined for seven Emmys, made the documentary “Soul of the Ocean.” They used their underwater cinematography to capture communities of interdependent marine species and how biodiversity helps maintain the health of the ocean.

“We’ve been gathering footage since about 2000, mostly just putting that footage away,” Howard said. “We were making Imax movies during that same time. We started thinking about what to do with all this footage and COVID hit. I started assembling the footage into sequences of animal behavior and ended up making the film.”

The festival will be the first time they’ve had a film screened in front of an audience at La Paloma.

“We’re very honored to be a part of it,” said Michele, who started her career in nursing before joining Howard Hall Productions about 30 years ago.

Nick and Cheryl Dean, who live in Encinitas, weave together interconnected histories in their film “The Witness is a Whale.”

“The film retells two interconnected stories,” Nick said. “One is an environmental detective story: The revealing of secret and illegal whaling by the Soviet Union in Japan during the Cold War. The other part of the narrative is the recovery of whale species from those illegal and legal whalings since that time and the impact it’s had on various ecosystems.”

“We started making short films then we found this story and we tried to do something a little more ambitious,” Cheryl added.

The festival’s executive director, Greg Reitman, said he’s proud that those two films are from “our backyard.”

“I just feel they’re so uniquely made and they really capture the innocence of the ocean and of this world,” he said.

There are 35 films total that will be screened during the festival, which begins on Thursday, June 2, with a cocktail reception and screening of “Inside Antarctica: Machine Learning & Microplastics” at the Museum of Photographic Arts. There will also be an outdoor screening of “Whale Wisdom” on Saturday, June 4, at Freedom Boat Club followed by an after-party celebration on the water.

“We felt in general there’s nothing more important than water and our oceans, Reitman said. “They’re the lungs of our planet. As Captain Paul Watson said, if the oceans die we die. So we’re integrally connected to them and we felt it was a really important time and place to bring that message forward, and we thought there wasn’t a better location than here in San Diego.”

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