Two documentaries about salmon will be shown as part of the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival in June. The double feature will open with “In the Same Boat,” which focuses on Bristol Bay’s renowned salmon fishery.
The documentary has been selected to make its world premiere at the prestigious Seattle festival, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which helped fund the film. The Anchorage, Alaska-based association represents some 1,850 Bristol Bay commercial salmon drift gillnetters.
Director Elijah Lawson, a lifelong Bristol Bay fisherman who runs the Potential, teamed up with Randall Pack to shoot “In the Same Boat.” The film has been entered into 12 film festivals internationally, and Lawson hopes eventually to have the documentary entered in 20 film festivals.
Lawson, who owns Prophet Studios in Seattle, says the documentary aims to promote the Bristol Bay fishery. It tells the tale of three multigenerational fishing families and what it takes to own and run a fishing business.
As fishermen in Bristol Bay and all over the United States can attest, being good at catching fish is only part of the battle. They’re accountants, mechanics, cooks and managers, too, as well as advocates for their industry and the way of life that they love.
“I’m really proud to tell the world about our fishery and the amazing people involved in it,” Lawson says in the association’s summer 2014 newsletter. “I want to celebrate our sustainable livelihoods, our renewable resources, and the reasons we’re all here.”
Here’s a taste of what audiences will see in the documentary.
You can view other video clips from “In the Same Boat” at the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association’s website.
Lawson’s film opens for filmmaker Mark Titus’ documentary, “The Breach.” It asks whether we’ve “learned enough from our past mistakes to save the last great wild salmon runs on the planet.”
Titus, a Seattle writer and film director, says in the film’s trailer that he “chased salmon around my whole childhood.” After college he spent his 20s working as a salmon fishing guide in Alaska.
In his 30s, he says, he returned to the fishing grounds of his youth. But the salmon weren’t as plentiful — and he wanted to find out why.
Part of “The Breach” explores the decades-long battle to remove Washington’s Elwha River dam in hopes of restoring once vibrant king salmon runs that boasted fish in excess of 100 pounds. But the dam built in 1913 blocked the salmon from reaching their spawning grounds in the Olympic Mountains.
However, Titus, who raised $44,039 through a Kickstarter campaign to make the documentary, says on his Kickstarter page that the film’s title refers to more than just dam removal.
“I realized the film was not only about the breaching of those dams,” Titus wrote, “but of a much larger breach of contract between human beings and nature — specifically wild salmon — and if we want to have a shot at repairing things to sustain future generations — we’d better pay attention — right now.”
Right now you can check out this trailer for “The Breach.”
Both films are being shown in Seattle on Wednesday, June 4 and Saturday, June 7. Those of you in the region can find ticket information and show times for the Seattle screenings here.