Focus on Film: Women in the Water

By Steven Libowitz   |   October 29, 2020
She is the Ocean is an in-depth exploration of the lives of nine women from around the world who share a love for the sea

She is the Ocean, the new documentary from Inna Blokhina, the director of the award-winning film On the Wave, is an in-depth exploration of the lives of nine women from around the world who share a love for the sea so profound that they have chosen to make the ocean the center of their physical, philosophical, and professional lives.

In a unique concept, Blokhina selected the women, ranging in age from 12 to 83, to create a portrait of what could be a metaphor for one woman’s ocean life through all her ages. Starting with three women who engage in the thrill of ocean sports, moving on to a famed scientist who plunges into the deepest depths on the edge of human survival, and a cliff diver who is hailed as “The bravest woman in Germany,” the film captures the common thread that bonds them together. Shot in 4k cinematography, the film captures the ocean stories in an immersive way, bringing to life every ocean encounter in breathtaking fashion, from free-swimming with sharks far below the surface to surfing the top of the world’s biggest waves.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum hosts the local premiere of She is the Ocean at 7 pm on Thursday, October 22, when the online screening will be followed by a panel, moderated by Greg Gorga, the museum’s executive director, featuring director Blokhina and special guests including Holly Lohuis, a marine biologist who works with Jean-Michel Cousteau and teen surfing prodigy Cinta Hansel; and her father, pro surfer Michael Ho, who both appear in the film. Visit

Bridges to New Beginnings

New Beginnings’ annual fundraiser eschews the online format in favor of a live event from 6 pm to 9 pm on Thursday, October 22, at the West Winds Drive-In. The centerpiece is a screening of the 1991 comedy-drama film The Fisher King, which stars Montecito’s own Jeff Bridges as a radio shock jock who tries to find redemption by helping a man whose life he inadvertently shattered. The counseling center chose the film as it “conveys the compassion and hope that aligns beautifully with our work and will help community members reflect upon how trauma and mental illness impacts each one of us,” according to a statement.

The event also features screenings of the short films “Hair Love” and “French Roast,” a videotaped panel interview with the actress Mercedes Ruehl and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese that was specifically produced for the evening, and a raffle for prize giveaways. Admission is by donation of $50; a late night screening of the film costs $5. Visit

See it at CWC Online

The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin’s first feature-length film with dialogue, which began production just six days after the outbreak of World War II, and yet remains somehow ridiculously relevant, screens as the next offering in the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Subversives series. The Little Tramp plays dual roles as a kindhearted Jewish barber and a heartless dictator in satirizing fascism and antisemitism in a plot that takes aim at the escalating power of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The Great Dictator was controversial in its time and continues to invite debate during our current times over the effectiveness of its deployment of comedy to critique the cruelty of fascism. 

University of Minnesota Cultural Studies professor Maggie Hennefeld, author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes, will join moderator UCSB film professor Miguel Penabella for a Zoom discussion 4 pm screening on Thursday, October 22. (See the movie on Amazon Prime or via Kanopy.)

Also from CWC: The 2019 film Women of the Gulag, which tells the compelling stories of six female survivors of Soviet labor camps as a sort of female focused companion piece to Solzhenitsyn’s classic book Gulag Archipelago by allowing the women to tell their own accounts of their experiences. Director-producer Marianna Yarovskaya and author-producer Paul Gregory join Alexandra Noi (UCSB History Department) for a virtual discussion of the documentary following the 7 pm screening on Tuesday, October 27.


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