52ND SFIFF: “A Sea Change”
“Human denial of various colors has unfortunately played a large role in fostering inaction over mitigating global warming’s effects. Ettinger wisely gets around this problem by grounding Huseby’s search for answers as a personal quest. Through the bits of personal background mentioned in the film, the viewer learns the long family tradition behind Huseby’s love of the sea. The grandfather’s loving and playful relationship with his grandson Elias shows Huseby wants to pass this wonderful family tradition on to the next generation but may be prevented from doing so by ocean acidification.
Loving and gorgeous footage of undersea life also reinforces the stakes of the ocean acidification problem. These beautiful shots will put many viewers in touch with their inner Elias.
“A Sea Change” offers information to balance its visual beauties and varieties of love. But the presentation of this information is kept at a layperson level thanks to very vivid real world examples. Dozens of Exxon Valdez-level eco-disasters occurring simultaneously on the world’s coastlines proves a very chilling metaphor for ocean acidification’s effects.”
—Peter Wong, BeyondChron
A Sea Change
“Huseby launches an adorable “About Schmidt”-like road trip to meet the world’s leading oceanographers and global warming experts to better understand the magnitude of the problem [ocean acidification], and learn how to start curing it. The journey takes the genial narrator, and viewers, as far north as the North Pole and as local as Monterey in search of helpful news. Like “An Inconvenient Truth,” this film is both a love letter to the planet and an urgent plea to its citizens.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
A Deep Dive Into Troubled Waters
“The story of a retired educator who becomes interested in, and finally consumed by, the declining state of the world’s oceans, the film [A Sea Change] brings a crucial and little-known issue to the attention of filmgoers. The movie, which takes the audience to some of the globe’s most attractive locales, brings to surprisingly absorbing life the subject of ocean acidification. That’s what happens when carbon dioxide — released by cars and other fossil-fuel-burning culprits — ends up in the sea, thereby fatally changing its chemistry. . . . A Sea Change . . . looks terrific, with lots of breathtaking footage of the natural world, from the tiniest pteropod (the fluttery, planktonic sea snail that is most threatened by acidification) to the most majestic Norwegian scenery. And, at a time when plenty of documentaries want to be the “Inconvenient Truth” of fill-in-the-issue, A Sea Change brings a genuinely important subject to the fore with a welcome lack of jargon and preaching.”
—Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
‘A Sea Change’ Brings in a Tide of Change
“Pteropods dance to a musical composition of perfect balance. Their translucent wings flutter delicately deep within our oceans. With each movement they beckon us to discover more of their world, a world that is in danger because their existence is threatened. And what are pteropods you ask? They are tiny organisms at the bottom of the food chain. They grow delicate shells for protection. Before watching A Sea Change I never knew of their existence. It made me realize that our oceans are a vast territory of undiscovered treasures yet to feel connected to. We have all heard of the dangers of Carbon Dioxide emissions poisoning our atmosphere. But have you heard of what Carbon Dioxide is doing to our oceans? Ocean Acidification. It is this acidification that is dissolving the shells of the pteropods, threatening the entire food chain. . . .
A Sea Change tells the story of Ocean Acidification in a manner that is easily understood and easy to connect to. My children and I watched A Sea Change together. Elias and Sven’s comforting presence on the screen guided us through this dark subject. Sven writes letters to Elias, sharing with him in his loving and gentle manner what he has learned from scientists. It is through these letters that connected us to the ocean and made ocean acidification real for us.
But the most important piece of the documentary for me was the hope it gave. Sven Huseby and Barbara Ettinger not only presented the problems of ocean acidification, but more importantly they explored the solutions to it. A Sea Change inspires us to change so that we may become a sea of change for the world’s oceans.”
— Laura Ballou, DC Examiner
Documentary Imagines World Without Fish
“Might all the world’s fish die? This question is posed by a documentary about ocean acidification that will debut at the DC Environmental Film Festival March 14.
A Sea Change: Imagine a World Without Fish, invites viewers to travel along with grandfather Sven Huseby as he learns about what happens as the oceans absorb some of our excess CO2 pollution. . . . Early on, he introduces us to his grandson, Elias, a precocious boy with whom Huseby is clearly close. Just because the intergenerational trope is a bit cliché when discussing environmental issues doesn’t mean it can’t be extremely moving, as it is here.
By shadowing ocean scientists, Huseby learns that our oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and the rate of change is increasing. These changes corrode the shells and skeletons of many marine organisms, including corals and shellfish. Larval fish are also at risk, as are entire food webs.
The fact that we’re not just losing species but major ecosystems is a sign of bad planetary stewardship, said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at Stanford University who is interviewed in the film. “It raises deeper concerns, like, what else are we screwing up that we’re not aware of?” . . .
Ocean acidification is such a scary problem that many people would rather not think about it — kind of like climate change. But “A Sea Change” goes a long way toward making this uncomfortable topic oh-so-human. “
—Erica Gies, Matter Network