Blue Water Film Festival Honors Yvon Chouinard, World Surfer Rob Machado, and Announces Film Festival Award Winners

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Rob Machado receives the Eco Hero Award

This year’s festival honored filmmakers throughout the globe whose compelling stories about our oceans, water and nature captured the minds of audiences of all ages”

— Blue Water Film Festival Executive Director Greg Reitman

SAN DIEGO, CA, UNITED STATES, June 13, 2023/ — The 4th Annual Blue Water Film Festival (BWFF) announced this year’s juried award winners at the Closing Night Award Ceremony on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at UCSD Park & Market. The festival, held from June 8-11, screened over 40 films in the narrative, documentary, shorts and animation categories..

“This year’s festival honored filmmakers throughout the globe whose compelling stories about our oceans, water and nature captured the minds of audiences of all ages” said Greg Reitman, Festival Director and Founder. “We continue to showcase the best environmental films around the globe with the intention of amplifying these compelling environmental storymakers.”

This years 2023 winners included Best Feature Documentary film, “Waterman,” directed by Isaac Halasima; Special Jury Documentary, “Bobi Wine: The People’s President,” directed by Christpher Sharp, Moses Bwayo; Best Short film, “TigerEyes,” directed by Martina Trzecpyk; Best Animated Short Film, “Snail & The Whale,” directed by Max Lang, Daniel Snaddon; Special Jury Animated Short film, “The Floating World,”directed by Hiroshi Yokota; Best Cinematography, “Patrick & The Whale,” by Patrick Dykstra, Gail Jenkinson, Romain Barats; Producer’s Vision Award, “Creation Theory,” by Ben Sturgulewski; Director’s Vision Award, “Three Moons of Biyangdo,” directed by Jon Cleave and Lucy McIntosh; and Best Science Film, “Mapping the Reef: Cloudbreak,” directed by Cliff Kapono.

BWFF Film Awards

Global Guardian Award

Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia

Pioneer Award

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

Aquatic Award

Director, Robert Connolly, BlueBack

Eco Hero Award

Rob Machado, Legendary American Surfer

Grand Jury Best Feature Documentary Film

WINNER: Waterman directed by Isaac Halasima

Special Jury – Documentary Film

WINNER: Bobi Wine: The People’s President directed by Christpher Sharp, Moses Bwayo

Jury members were Laura Kutnick (Founder of Dale & Laura Kutnick Foundation), Robert Fylovent (Academy Award Documentary Producer) and Mithcell Block (Chair, Documentary Production & Film Studies, University of Oregon).

Grand Jury Best Short Film

WINNER: TigerEyes, directed by Martina Trzecpyk

Jury members were Tzipi Trope (Professor, NYU-Tisch), Sam Kadi (Producer) and Jacques Thelemaque (Co-Founder, Filmmakers Alliance).

Grand Jury Best Short Animated Film

WINNER:  Snail & The Whale directed by Max Lange, Daniel Snaddon

Special Jury – Animated Film

WINNER: The Floating World directed by Hiroshi Yokota

Jury members were Veronica Taylor (Voice over Actor, Pokemon) Vrinda Sood (CEO, Citrus Ink Studios), and Chris Henderson (Animated Producer).

Best Cinematography

WINNER: Patrick & The Whale, director of Photography by Patrick Dykstra, Gail Jenkinson, Roamin Barats

Best Science Film

WINNER: Mapping the Reef: Cloudbreak directed by Cliff Kapono

Producers Vision Award

WINNER: Creation Theory directed by Ben Sturgulewski

Director’s Vision Award

WINNER: Three Moons of Biyangdo directed by Jon Cleave and Lucy McIntosh


Eco Impact Award presented by DELL Technology

WINNER: Patrick & The Whale produced by Wolfgang Knoepfler

Blue Water Ocean Award presented by Lectrosonics

WINNER: Forest Guardian directed by Anthony Ochieng Onyango

Blue Water Sound Waves Award presented by Sennheiser

WINNER: Daughter of the Sea directed by Nancy Kwon

Blue Water Innovation Award presented by Apricorn Technology

WINNERS: The Floating Word (Hiroshi Yokota), Generation Scientist (Stephanie Wang-Beal), Corazon Salado (Dani Salado)


The opening night screening was hosted by the Israel Consulate and showcased the short film, “The Water Walker” followed by Mathew Mishory “Who Are the Marcuses?” at MOPA – Museum Of Photography. The centerpiece film was hosted by the Austrian Consulate and showcased Austrian Producer Wolfgang Knoepfler, “Patrick & The Whale.” The festival closed with Patagonia Films, “Corazon Salado” directed by Dani Salado. The Vistal Bar & Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel hosted the inaugural filmmaker’s brunch where $25,000 in production prizes were given to attending filmmakers provided by DELL Technology, Lectrosonics, FilmIc Pro, Sennheiser, and Apricorn to the winners.

BWFF is grateful to have the financial support of the Dale and Laura Kutnick Foundation; Walter Munk Foundation; Promotional Partners Umbrella Media, Nautilus Magazine, US Sailing Association, Animation Magazine; Sustaining Sponsors Austrian Consulate, Israeli Consulate, Patagonia FIlms, Hilton San Diego/ Del Mar, Himalaya, Merriam Vineyards, DELL Technology, Image ProGraf, Lectrosonics, Sennheiser, Complete Production Group, and Baja Brewing; Eco Sponsors including Maui Loa, Aura Cacia, Boochcraft, Eco Bags, Eliah Sahil Organics, FilmIc Pro, Kore Infrastructure, Open Water, Batch 22, 1% for the Planet, Ego Id Media, Shore Buddies, Frame Shop, Apricorn, Generaciones Asociadas; Location Partners UC San Diego Park & Market, Digital Gym Cinema, La Paloma Theatre, MOPA, Vistal Bar & Restaurant, The Mangelsen Gallery and the San Diego community support of local arts supporters.


About Blue Water Film Festival

Founded in 2020, the Blue Water Film festival celebrates the United Nations World Oceans Day, June 8th. The Blue Water Film Festival takes place in San Diego, home to the Scripps Oceanographic Institution. The theme of the Blue Water Film Festival is about our Blue Planet; the festival purpose is to encourage attendees to think broadly about how climate change affects planet Earth and deeply about the universal concerns and actions needed to bring us into balance. About 50% of all film selections are non- US productions, helping to fulfill the festival mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding through film. BWFF is an official 501(c)(3) non-profit. Learn more at


About the Blue Water Institute

The year-round Blue Water Institute’s purpose is to innovate for ocean-based solutions and to develop the next set of environmental filmmakers for industry change. Blue Water Institute is a non-profit organization committed to the preservation of the planet and the need to nurture the next generation of environmental filmmakers. The Institute is driven by its environmental programs that discover, innovate and support the next generation of environmental filmmakers from all over the world.


Greg Reitman
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