Paul Watson honored at Friday Harbor Film Festival

Captain Paul Watson, founder of both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, will receive the 2018 Andrew V. McLaglen Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Friday Harbor Film Festival. that takes place October 26-28. Composer Alex Shapiro will receive the Local Hero Award. 

Capt. Watson will be honored at the festival's Opening Night Gala at the San Juan Community Theatre, Friday October 26, followed by a screening of his new film Chasing the Thunder; a high-seas documentary about the eco-warriors of Sea Shepherd as they engage on an epic 110-day, 10,000-mile chase of the Thunder, a notorious poaching vessel. Wanted by Interpol and banned from fishing in the Antarctic, it had eluded capture for over a decade.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a person who has made outstanding contributions to raising awareness and his or her professional excellence in the field of filmmaking and activism. It is presented in memory of Andrew V. McLaglen, a proficient award-winning film director and long-time resident of San Juan Island.

This year’s recipient, Captain Paul Watson, is a renowned marine wildlife conservation and environmental activist from Toronto, Canada. He was one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace, a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Captain Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Its mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species by using innovative direct-action tactics. Watson has served as Master and Commander on seven different Sea Shepherd ships since 1978 and continues to lead Sea Shepherd campaigns. Alongside his crew he has starred in seven seasons of Animal Planet’s television series Whale Wars.

A renowned speaker, accomplished author, master mariner, and lifelong environmentalist, Captain Watson has been awarded many honors for his dedication to the oceans and to the planet. Among the many commendations for his work, he received the Genesis Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, was named one of the Top 20 Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century by Time magazine in 2000, and was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. in 2002.

He was also awarded the Amazon Peace Prize by the President of Ecuador in 2007. In 2012 Captain Watson became only the second person after Captain Jacques Cousteau to be awarded the Jules Verne Award, dedicated to environmentalists and adventurers.

Capt. Watson will be honored at the festival's Opening Night Gala at the San Juan Community Theatre, Friday October 26, followed by a screening of his new film Chasing the Thunder; a high-seas documentary about the eco-warriors of Sea Shepherd as they engage on an epic 110-day, 10,000-mile chase of the Thunder, a notorious poaching vessel. Wanted by Interpol and banned from fishing in the Antarctic, it had eluded capture for over a decade.

Chasing the Thunder takes the audience on an exhilarating ride to the furthest reaches of the planet as it captures the dangerous drama of the world’s longest maritime pursuit.

Each year since 2013, the Friday Harbor Film Festival, located on San Juan Island invites dedicated and talented filmmakers to showcase their documentary films unique ability to: 

Entertain audiences through the art of compelling storytelling;

Inspire audience members, as well as filmmakers to be a force for positive change;

Enlighten all participants by conveying relevant information, creating awareness and expanding appreciation of our fragile planet, diverse cultures and those daring to explore new frontiers.

The three-day Film Festival takes place in five venues in Friday Harbor. All films are shown twice. There are also special events including the favorite Filmmakers Forum. 

This year the 1st  annual “Laszlo Pal Emerging Filmmaker Award" will be presented.

Throughout the three days the audience is encouraged to vote for their favorite.

On Sunday evening the festival's  Local Hero award will be awarded to Alex Shapiro an accomplished composer, who has made a significant contribution to the island community, though her musical reflections inspired by our island home.

Shapiro is the Symphonic and Concert writer member on the Board of Directors of ASCAP, and its representative to The International Council of Music Authors (CIAM). She also serves on the boards of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The ASCAP Foundation, and The Friday Harbor Laboratories. She is a former board member of organizations ranging from The MacDowell Colony and The Society of Composers and Lyricists, to the ACLU of Southern California, of which she was Vice-president in the 1990s.

Educated at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, Shapiro moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles in 1983, composing for film and TV for 15 years before switching her focus to the concert music world. In 2007 Shapiro moved to San Juan Island.

From her home on the water’s edge, Alex procrastinates on her next piece by photographing anything with paws, are increasingly part of Shapiro’s multimedia works and her website, where just as on her blog,, and Facebook page,, Alex’s music and pictures can be experienced separately, and together.

Also on Sunday, the winners of each film category and the overall favorite will be announced, followed by a final screening of the Audience Favorite. Winning films are also featured in the Best of the Fest series January to May, 2019.

The Opening Night Gala on Friday, September 26 is open to attendees who have purchased a Gala ticket or an all access wristband.

The Sunday evening presentation of the Local Hero Award and screening of the Audience Choice Award film is free for everyone.  

The exceptional aspect of the FHFF is that each film screened hosts the filmmaker for Q & A. The Friday Harbor Film Festival is a real favorite of the filmmakers themselves, the accolades pour in after each event;

“An eager, interested audience, one that I expect will grow as the exceptional nature of the festival becomes increasingly recognized” Lucy Ostrander, Producer Proof of Loyalty

“In the insider world of festival gems, we filmmakers agree, It’s a rare beauty.” Kevin Tomlinson, producer, Crazywise

“The level of professionalism exceeds many larger festivals we have been at. I really appreciated being able to provide Q&A and found the caliber of the questions from the audience to be both educated and thoughtful.” Roger Williams, Producer, River Blue

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