Melbourne dives into the Ocean Film Festival

Festival director Jemima Robinson said Australians have a close connection to the ocean. Picture: Salonee Mistry

By SALONEE MISTRY and KATHRYN LEWIS

Ocean-lovers got a taste of the deep without getting their feet wet at the 2018 Ocean Film Festival in Melbourne this week. 

Featuring documentaries on surfers, divers and those who love the rush of being on a boat, to the magnificent creatures living below the sea, the festival explores the experiences of ocean-lovers across the world.

• The final date in the festival's Victorian tour is tonight, in Geelong at 6.45pm. 

Festival director Jemima Robinson said the number of entries had skyrocketed since the festival began.

 “When I tried researching the idea, I could only find films on ocean conservation – no one had ventured into this area. In our first year we had eight entries and this year we had around 450,” Ms Robinson said.

The festival screened at Crown Melbourne and the Astor Theatre, showcasing nine short films from all over the world.

Ms Robinson said this was a significant year as for the first time, four of the films were made by or featured Australians.

“Since the festival was born here it’s a huge achievement for us,” she said.

The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation centre treats turtles at risk on the Great Barrier Reef.
Picture: Cairn Turtle Rehabilitation Centre/Facebook

A notable Australian documentary at the festival was Turtley Addicted, which featured the Fitzroy Island Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and their 150 volunteers.

The film showcased the centre which has treated more than 170 injured animals in the Great Barrier Reef in the last 15 years. 

One of the most notable international films at the festival was Touched by the Ocean, which follows the four-month journey of two friends who with no ocean rowing experience, row from Namibia to Brazil.

Proceeds from some festival screenings support conservation organisations such as Project AWARE foundation and Sea Shepherd Australia.

The festival is travelling right across the country, visiting 26 Australian cities and towns before setting off on a world tour including destinations including New Zealand, Belgium and the UK.