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See Sea, Feel Sea: 6th Annual Waimea Ocean Film Festival Set for January on Hawaii Island

Posted on November 23, 2015

Story by Derek Paiva

A still image from “Humpback Whales,” screening at the Waimea Ocean Film Festival in January. Photo credit: 2014 MacGillivray Freeman Films and Pacific Life/Howard Hall. Photo courtesy of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival.

Breakfast talks in the morning. Film screenings and art and photography exhibits the rest of the day. And the main subject of all of these? Our oceans.

More specifically, gaining a greater understanding and awareness of our oceans, as well as the relationship all humans have with them – whether conscious of that relationship or not.

These topics are also the focus of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival, which will offer up its sixth annual slate of sea-related films, discussions, filmmaker Q&As, art exhibits and activities on Hawaii Island in January. Schedule specifics for the 2016 festival’s films and talk story sessions are still being finalized, but all events will happen at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, from Jan. 1 through 4, and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu, from Jan. 5 through 8.

That’s right. All of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival’s screening venues are situated on Hawaii Island’s Kohala and Kona Coasts, right up against the biggest of the fest’s five subjects – the Pacific Ocean. So you could, if you so desire, watch a film about the ocean, participate in a Q&A about the ocean, then step outside and actually contemplate the big blue for real. Mind blowing stuff, indeed.

Waimea Ocean Film Festival 2016’s slate of more than 60 films – some award-winning, many accompanied by their filmmakers for post-film Q&As – includes international- as well as Hawaii-filmed projects. A trio of Hawaii-filmed projects we’re looking forward to include:

  • Hokulea: Proud Voyage Home (1989)
    A document of the Polynesian Voyaging Society long-distance voyaging canoe Hokulea’s landmark 1985 journey retracing the migratory routes of early Polynesians – a 12,000-mile sail from the Hawaiian Islands to Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, and back, using traditional wayfinding techniques and no modern navigational instruments. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with navigators and crew members of ocean voyaging canoes, including Hokulea.

Duke Kahanamoku. Photo credit: Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival.

  • Duke Kahanamoku: Hawaii’s Soul (2005)
    A documentary tracing the life of the pioneering Hawaii waterman and Olympian, largely shared via the stories and recollections of people who knew him. The film explores Kahanamoku’s upbringing in Waikiki – where he spent much time swimming, surfing and mastering ocean activities – and achievements on the 1912, 1920 and 1924 U.S. Olympic swimming teams. He won five individual and team medals – two gold, two silver and one bronze.
  • Humpback Whales (2015)
    While not filmed here in its entirety – locations also included Alaska and Tonga – this documentary spends an ample time in Hawaii’s offshore waters following the massive marine animals. Originally produced for IMAX screens, the film revels in gorgeous macro and micro shots of whales in their element as a team of researchers explore how humpbacks communicate, feed, care for their young and even goof around.

Art and photography exhibitions at the 2016 festival will include “The Voyager Exhibit,” a collection of images taken on the current three-year worldwide sail of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea; and the unusual, though very handsome, bamboo surfboards of Hawaii Island shaper Gary Young.

Keep checking the Waimea Ocean Film Festival website in the weeks ahead for more information and dates for film screenings, breakfast talks and other events, and a downloadable version of the fest’s sublimely designed official program.

Festival passes are on sale now on the Waimea Ocean Film Festival website.


About Derek Paiva: Derek Paiva is an editor and writer on the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and Big Island Visitors Bureau account teams at Anthology Marketing Group. A lifelong Hawaii resident, Derek has enjoyed careers in magazine and newspaper journalism, and was editor-in-chief of Hawaii Magazine from 2010 through 2015. He has traveled extensively throughout the Hawaiian Islands, written about them exhaustively, and is always looking forward to exploring and learning new things about his home islands. He can be contacted at derek.paiva@anthologygroup.com.


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