Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands




Recently I was manning a post at Market Place, our local grocery store, attempting to evaluate and generate some local interest and awareness of the pending Film Festival (FHFF) next weekend here on San Juan Island. The first question I asked strangers was: “Do you like documentary films?” My strategy was if they don’t care for documentary films, they’ll likely not be interested in paying to attend a rash of them even if we bring the films to them here on the island.

Fortunately, the number of people unwilling to expose themselves to “reality” films is small. I’ve actually been very impressed by the enthusiasm locally for this first effort to bring important messages to our archipelago in the Salish Sea via films. Of course, the residents of San Juan County are an enlightened group that I would expect to prefer reality movies to reality TV, the scourge of the entertainment industry.

The frustrating, sometimes depressing, message of these films can be upsetting, which is likely the purpose of the film! I watched “Blackwave” last evening, a film about the corporate lies and government lack of oversight that are the foundation of our mad-dash quest for energy. It was a downer! Sometimes in life we turn a blind eye towards the sufferings of our fellow man: I’m-fine,-the-rest-are-outside-my-realm mentality. THAT is the value and purpose of documentary films, especially social justice and awareness-themed movies, where we are knocked off our fences of obliviousness.

The power of documentary films to enlighten a population is great. It’s just too bad those at the helm of corporate North American energy companies are more interested in their “bottom line” than the legacy they are leaving their (and our) grandchildren. Of course, we’re the ones driving the cars and trucks that suck up the energy, and we’re the ones demanding all the goods and services in our prosperous lifestyle, that promotes and encourages that greed!

So this photo of a lighthouse on San Juan Island illustrates the attempt we are making locally to open the eyes of those on the fence. A lighthouse’s purpose is to warn ships of danger. It’s the job of the captain (representing all of us) to steer clear of that danger. Are we as drunk on our consumptive greed as the captain of the Exxon Valdez was when his ship hit the rocks?


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