7th Annual Friday Harbor Film Festival


Welcome to the 7th Annual Friday Harbor Film Festival, screening more than 40 films from the Pacific Rim and Beyond.

Full Length Features



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Apollo 11

Apollo 11 is a cinematic event 50 years in the making. Crafted from a newly-discovered trove of 65mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, the film takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—putting the first men on the moon and forever turning Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names.


Artifishal is a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them.  Exploring the high cost – ecological, financial, and cultural – of our mistaken belief that engineered solutions can make up for habitat destruction, it explores a variety of important issues: wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our loss of faith in nature.


Beartrek is a conservation story wrapped in an adventure. Follow renowned biologist Chris Morgan, whose larger-than-life presence and palpable passion for wildlife led him on an epic and entertaining journey across 71,982 miles on three continents where he tracked and documented populations of the world’s most elusive and endangered bears.

Beyond the Fear of Singing

In a society where people are often measured by the prowess of their performance, those of us who at an early age experience criticism of the sound of our voice, or find our singing constantly being compared unfavorably to others, may end up reluctant to sing.

Dammed to Extinction

For eons Southern Resident killer whales have hunted chinook salmon along the Pacific Coast. For the last 40 years, renowned whale scientist and San Juan Island resident Ken Balcomb has closely observed them. He’s familiar with a deadly pattern. Salmon numbers plummet. Orcas starve.

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Death By Design

What is the cost of our digital dependency?  Death by Design explores this question and uncovers the relatively unknown dark side of the digital revolution. Consumers love – and live on – their smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

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Double Take:  The Art of Elizabeth King

Double Take: The Art of Elizabeth King engages the viewer in the work of sculptor and stop-action filmmaker Elizabeth King, who embarks on each new project by posing a single question to herself: “Can this be physically done?” King mines the spaces in between classical sculpture and automata; life and the life-like.

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Eating Up Easter

The iconic statues and sensationalized “mysteries” of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have drawn the interest of the world for centuries, attracting curious visitors to its shores. Today, this tiny, barren island is experiencing an economic boon as tourism skyrockets.

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Echo in The Canyon

Echo in The Canyon celebrates the explosion of what is referred to as the “California Sound” — popular music from the mid-60s that was born in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon.

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Ghost Fleet

Ghost Fleet takes a close look at Thailand’s fishing industry, which supplies a large portion of the world’s seafood. The country’s giant fishing fleet is chronically short of up to 60,000 fishermen per year, leaving captains scrambling to find crew.

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Hearing is Believing

Hearing Is Believing introduces Rachel Flowers, a multi-talented 23-year-old musician and composer.  Born 15 weeks premature and weighing only one pound five ounces, Rachel lost her eyesight due to retinopathy of prematurity.  But miraculously, she had perfect pitch.

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Jim Allison:Breakthrough

Jim Allison: Breakthrough tells the inspiring and life-saving story of the Texas immunologist who has devoted his life to finding a cure for cancer.  Allison was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of cancer therapies that stimulate the immune system to attack tumor cells.

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Lobster War

Lobster War explores the conflict between the United States and Canada over waters that both countries have claimed since the end of the Revolutionary War. Along a section of what has always been a peaceful border, a dispute over 277 square miles of increasingly valuable waters known as the Gray Zone threatens to shatter the tranquility between the neighbors.


The story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

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Mission Control
The Unsung Heroes of Apollo

At the heart of the remarkable Apollo space program was the team who worked in mission control.  They were born against a backdrop of economic turmoil and global conflict.


At the age of 85, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a noteworthy legal legacy while becoming an unexpected intergenerational heroine and pop culture icon.

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Return to Mount Kennedy

Back in 1965, Senator Robert Kennedy joined Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Everest, on an expedition to be the first to reach the summit of a remote mountain in the Yukon named after Kennedy’s brother, the late president, JFK. 

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Risking Light

From the streets of Minneapolis, the aboriginal lands of Australia, and the killing fields of Cambodia come the powerful stories of three people who had the courage to step out of the haunting, tragic darkness of the past, risking everything to reach the light of their own compassion.

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Symbiotic Earth

Explores the life and ideas of Lynn Margulis, a scientific rebel who challenged entrenched theories of evolution to present a new narrative: life evolves through collaboration.

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Taming Wild Pura Vida

Three years ago at the FHFF, a film called Taming Wild was screened by enthusiastic audiences. Now the film’s sequel, Taming Wild: Pura Vida, follows horse trainer Elsa Sinclair as she delves still deeper into ways of building relationships between horses and humans.

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The Bowmakers

The story of the most important instrument you’ve never heard of. Port Townsend, Washington is known as the “Mecca of bowmaking,” where five world-renowned bowmakers live and work. They are among the handful of craftsmen who still practice this centuries-old trade.

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The Biggest Little Farm

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.

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The Camino Village

Early Irish history and mythology feature many accounts of great voyages.  Inspired by these stories, four men – a writer, two musicians, an artist, and a stonemason – created their own version of such a voyage, traveling from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in a handmade, traditional boat called a ‘Naomhóg’.  

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The IF Project

This extremely powerful film is about Seattle’s IF Project, an innovative program aimed at assisting incarcerated women to confront the circumstances that led to their imprisonment and to begin the process of turning their lives around.

The Need to Grow

Delivering alarming evidence on the importance of having healthy soil on our planet, coupled with the fact that at the current rate of soil degradation there are only about 60 years of farmable soil left, The Need to Grow offers an intimate look at activists and innovators in the food movement.

The Rider

Young cowboy Brady, once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned after a tragic riding accident that his competition days are over.  Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: riding and competing.

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The River and the Wall

The River and the Wall follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and in canoes.

The Wild

For millennia, wild salmon have survived ice ages, continental shifts, and most destructively, human beings.  The fact that these fish, one of the planet’s most critical food sources, continue to exist has led to the widespread belief that they are safe from extinction. 

The Zen Speaker

The Zen Speaker: Breaking the Silence is the story of Amy Ayoub, a prominent Nevada businesswoman who found the courage to overcome her shame about the trauma she’d kept hidden for 38 years.

They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It is a stark reminder of how terrible war is, even as it pays tribute to the sacrifice of a generation.

Three Flags Over Everest

Directed by Laszlo Pal, who is being honored posthumously by creation of the Emerging Filmmaker Award at Friday Harbor Film Festival, Three Flags Over Everest is an exhilarating documentary covering the record-breaking expedition of the 1990 Mt. Everest International Peace Climb.



A Concerned Citizen

A Concerned Citizen documents the work of Dr. Riki Ott, a whistleblower who predicted the Exxon Valdez oil spill hours before it happened and came to the aid of her Alaskan community in their battle for fair compensation for their loss of health and income.


Apex is short documentary weaving Amber Willett’s APEX: A (Killer) Whale Ballet with insights from dancers, a killer whale biologist, an improv class pianist, and a retired dancer turned scientific illustrator of whales. They explore the artistry and power of dance to energize a shift in the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ struggle for survival.

Apex, A Shade of Culture 
Cascade Crossroads

Cascade Crossroads chronicles the amazing story of seemingly opposite interests building bridges, both literal and metaphorical, in the Cascade Mountains.  The I‑90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, and the wildlife crossings and roadway improvements within it, is a win-win for people and animals that offers a new model for major infrastructure projects bisecting wild places.

Coral Glimmer of Hope

Coral reefs, the largest living organisms on the planet, are home to incredible biodiversity. However, corals around the world are in trouble because of rising ocean temperatures. A team of scientists is working in the Western Pacific island chain of Palau to unlock the mysteries of species that may contain a secret of adaptation for survival. 

For the Love of Salmon

Under the haze of the 2017 BC wildfire smoke, Kelowna filmmaker Jan Vozenilek follows Keely Weget-Whitney, 25-year-old member of the Stl’atl’imx First Nation, as she swims 60 kilometers of the frigid, fast-moving Fraser River.  Stunning aerial cinematography helps her make us aware of the depleting number of wild salmon and the impact this has on her culture and the environment.

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Grizzlies of the Sea

Stellers are the world’s largest species of sea lion. Early observers called them sea lions because the males grow large, furry manes, but when we compare these top predators to land animals, we think of them as the grizzlies of the sea. In this first episode of Salish Sea Wild, join wildlife veterinarian and Orcas Island resident Joe Gaydos and his team at Hornby Island during a frigid winter week as they dive with dozens of these magnificent creatures.

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How a Song Saved A Species

By the 1960’s, commercial whale hunting had caused the global whale population to plummet to 10% of its 19th century level. Roger Payne and his team’s research discovered that whales are intelligent animals that play a crucial role in maintaining the ocean’s health.  Their recording, Songs of the Humpback Whale, contributed to creation of a global movement that led to a moratorium on industrial whaling.

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Life Afloat

Every year tourists walk the docks of Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, BC, to eat fish tacos, see harbor seals, and take marine tours.  But what draws the people who live here year-round in a real-life fishbowl? Glimpse what life is like for three residents who share their experiences of living and loving Life Afloat.

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Protecting the Southern Resident Killer Whales

With the endangered population of southern resident killer whales dwindling, the Orca Conservancy is fighting to protect their future. Many challenges are facing the whales, including lack of food, toxic waters, and urbanized habitats. Science and education are the greatest hopes to save them.

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Raven People Rising

Raven People Rising chronicles the Heilstuk Nation’s efforts to chart a sustainable course through the troubled waters of the Great Bear Sea.   After the Nathan E. Stewart oil barge ran aground in their Great Bear Rainforest home, the Heilstuk took to the courts. Stunning footage combines with compelling storytelling to paint an urgent picture of a people poised to change the conversation about First Nations’ rights in Canada.

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Ride Me Back Home

In this mini music documentary, Willie Nelson sings Ride Me Back Home, the title track from his album that was released in June.  This song about equine freedom was inspired by Nelson’s herd of rescued horses.  Filmed at Nelson’s Luck Ranch, the video features footage of Nelson with his horses as well as vintage videos of horses serving in war.

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River of Bears

River of Bears explores the legendary McNeil River Alaska State Game Sanctuary. During the summer, it hosts the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. The film tells the remarkable story of these bears as they prepare for the coming harsh Alaska winter, and the visitors and scientists who come every summer to see them.

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San Juan Sentinels

Over 450 lighthouses in the United States serve as sentinels of safety for mariners faced with the uncertainty of darkness, fog, and stormy weather.  In our beautiful San Juan archipelago of 128 islands, there are five lighthouses that strategically guard over 478 miles of shoreline. This documentary captures the history and beauty of these sentinels.


Can you make a difference? A surfing activist recruits people to oppose a proposed 23-mile fracked gas pipeline next to Rockaway Beach, NYC. The Williams Pipeline would carry gas under New York Harbor – threatening beach communities and marine life while worsening climate change.

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Spines, Skeletons and Cyclops

The world’s oceans hide many secrets yet to be revealed.  In this film you have the opportunity to accompany a team of young marine biologists as they dive down to the bottom of the Salish Sea in their submersible.  Their mission is to find out how scientific trawling affects life at the bottom of the ocean, learning along the way about fantastic fish skeletons and stingrays’ spines.

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The Final Breach

The inland waters of the Pacific Northwest are home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife, including the Southern Resident Killer Whales. This is the story behind a community of orcas on the brink of extinction, and of those fighting to change their fate.

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The Original Richard McMahan

The multi-talented outsider artist Richard McMahan is on a quest to painstakingly re-create thousands of famous and not-so-famous paintings and artifacts in miniature. From well-loved Picasso and Frida Kahlo paintings to more obscure, intricate Maori canoes, McMahan has mastered dozens of genres, creating most of his works on a cluttered kitchen counter using recycled materials.

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The Quiet Force

The Quiet Force investigates the human and economic impact of Hispanic immigrants living in Wyoming ski towns where a mix of documented immigrants and undocumented workers comprise 30 percent of the local population. They come to the United States seeking safe living conditions, opportunity for their families, and jobs in the service industries that depend on their labor. Due to politics, many fear deportation and family separation.

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The Sacred Place Where Life Begins

It’s best to experience firsthand what you’re fighting for.  When two adventurers embark on a dangerous four-month expedition documenting the world’s longest land mammal migration through the Arctic Refuge of Alaska, they soon discover an incredible ecosystem protected by the Gwich’in Nation for more than 25,000 years that now is on the precipice of collapse by resource development corporations.

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The Tree of Life

Wood from cedar trees, traditionally used to tell the First Nations’ stories through art, is at risk in British Columbia. It doesn’t seem to make sense that the tribes who want to protect their traditional territory have nonetheless signed away their rights, allowing Canada to clear-cut the cedars. Since nothing can replace our forests, don’t we need to protect them from destruction?

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This Being Human

Meet Hameed, a young Iraqi child of war who left everything behind when he was only 15, in a solo quest for a more peaceable future. Despite adversity and challenge, and with resilience and the help of a foster family, he continues to live his American dream of education, survival and freedom.


Patagonia Films presents Treeline: A Story Written in Rings. Follow a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists, and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia, and the bristlecones of Nevada, as they explore an ancient story written in rings.

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When Goats Fly

Go behind the scenes as a passionate group of scientists, students, and volunteers come together to capture, air-lift, and relocate non-native mountain goats from Olympic National Park to Washington’s beautiful Cascade Mountains, bringing both of these ecosystems back into balance.

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