Swimming with the Fishes: Aquatic videographers host 12th annual UnderSea Film Exhibition

By Jenna Jay

Marine life takes center stage at the 12th annual San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition, Sept. 9 and 10 at the Qualcomm Hall in Sorrento Valley. Presented by the San Diego underwater videography organization UFEX, the exhibition will feature 32 short films by deep-sea filmmakers from around the world.

A panel of independent judges appointed by UFEX chose the films to showcase from a pool of international entries. The exhibition will present 16 selected films each evening beginning at 7 p.m., with each film a maximum of 5-minutes long and all featuring underwater footage ranging from kelp forests and exotic fish to sharks, reefs and other sea life.

“The exhibition is put on by a group of San Diego underwater videographers who were initially just looking for a showcase to show their videos to the public,” said Eric Hanauer, head of the UFEX outreach committee. “Over the last 12 years, it’s grown international.”

This year’s UnderSea Film Exhibition will also feature the winning film from the Capture the World contest for underwater videographers, sponsored by Gates Underwater Products, Aggressor and Dancer Fleets.

Unlike many other film displays, the UnderSea Film Exhibition requires no entry fees for participants and awards no prizes other than the distinction of having a film chosen for the event.

Claiming patrons of the film exhibition will take away “an appreciation for the underwater world,” Hanauer said, “For most people, the ocean is a barrier and there is still much false information going out, things like Shark Week. A lot of people are afraid of the ocean … if there’s one thing we want to convey, it would be the beauty of the underwater world and the artistry of the people who are shooting these films and conveying that beauty.”

Seascapes from the depths of Indonesia to the Fiji and Galapagos Islands and other exotic locations are expected in this year’s short films. “The trends [in videos] kind of follow the travel trends in diving,” Hanauer said. “One year Indonesia was a hot destination for exotic small creatures. A few years earlier, people started going to Guadalupe Island to film white sharks. The last couple of years, if there’s been a trend, it’s been an environmental trend. A lot of shows have a green message.”

Hanauer said the audience is expected to be half divers and half people interested in nature and the oceans. A portion of the proceeds will go to Birch Aquarium at Scripps and the Chula Vista Nature Center.

If you go

What: 12th annual San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 and 10

Where: Qualcomm Hall, 5775 Morehouse Drive, San Diego

Contact: (858) 651-2135

Tickets: $15 at; some tickets available at the door. Seating is open, and doors open 30 minutes prior to the show. Parking is free on the Qualcomm campus.