Students receive sneak peek at TBIFF films

ALPENA — Alpena High School students were able to receive a sneak peek of Thunder Bay International Film Festival films Wednesday.

The students were divided into a few sessions to watch various films offered at the festival later this month.

Education and Outreach Coordinator Sarah Waters said some of the film selections from around the world include “Galloping Extinction: Last Stand of the Seahorse” which is from Malaysia. This movie is about seahorses and issues of harvesting seahorses in that area of the world, Waters said.

“We’re super excited to do this for the second year in a row because we know students are busy. They have crazy schedules, athletics and after-school events, part-time jobs. We know it’s tough for them to make it to the festival on the weekend,” she said.

She said organizers also hope students become inspired by what they watch.

“They’ll be our next generation of stewards and we hope these films inspire them to learn more about the Great Lakes and oceans, careers for sure, also so they can make films as well,” Waters said.

Another, titled “Immiscible: The Fight Over Line 5,” is about the fight over Enbridge’s Line 5.

Student Caitlynn Shadbolt, 16, watched Immiscible and learned a lot.

“It was strange because I haven’t heard anything about it until now. It was really shocking to me that this was going on. People are pushing for it to be shut down and they’re not really listening,” she said.

The information presented in the film will lead to good conversations with others, she said.

“It makes me focused in growing in certain fields and learning about how to help more in the world,” she said.

It’s this kind of exposure teacher John Caplis hoped for.

“The goal is to expose these students to the film festival and generate some buzz and create some excitement for this important fundraiser for the marine sanctuary,” he said. “Some of the funding filters back into the school system in the form of educational programs and grants so we do things with students. The other focus is on learning.

“We selected films that were engaging, and help students think about environmental science, biology, government, economics. So we’re kind of merging this science and public policy elements to get kids to think about the larger world in the context of environmental science and public policy; decision making that humans have to do.”

He said the film about Line 5 is a big issue in the news and it can help educate the students about the issue.

“It helps educate kids about that particular pipeline 5 and public issues involved and what we’re going to do about it. It’s an engaging way to get them thinking about public policy and environmental issues,” he said.

Every teacher has a different experience, he said, but afterward he likes to start discussions with his students.

“I like to have a class discussion about the films that we see. Students are interested to see science put into a larger context. I always hope it inspires them to get active,” he said.

The Thunder Bay International Film Festival takes place Jan. 24-28.

There are about 40 films shown during the festival and tickets start at $6. For a full list of film dates and places go to

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687.