The 2012 Blue Horizons Student Film Winter premiere took place last night in Pollock Theater, giving students who participated in this year’s Blue Horizons summer program the chance to screen their short documentaries on local marine and coastal issues during the academic year.

UCSB’s Blue Horizons program is a nine-week course offered by the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Environmental Media Initiative and combines crash courses in filmmaking and environmental research. The four films covered topics including the threatened habitats of otters, pelican abuse, blue whales’ struggles with ship strikes and the eviction of a homeless community in the Ventura River basin.

The first short film, “No Otter Zone,” was produced by Spencer Bruttig, Nick DaSilva, Clinton Reynolds and Mark Romanov and explores a controversial otter ban along the Southern California coast. Bruttig, a fourth-year history and film major, said the documentary aims to provide an array of different perspectives on the issue and ultimately allow viewers to make up their own minds. “We wanted people to leave the theater totally confused about what’s right,” Bruttig said. According to Romanov, a fourth-year ecology major, the film highlighted the complex relationship between a capitalist society and a natural predator.

“It was a multifaceted issue; there were environmental, human and wildlife aspects to it,” Romanov said.

“Silver Bullet”, produced by Nick Deliberto, Ashley Greene, Liat Krongrad, Spencer Sheehan and Mallory Smith, included underwater footage of blue whales and concentrated on an effort to reduce cargo ship speeds in order to decrease whale fatalities in the Santa Barbara Channel. According to the film, if ships lower their speeds from 20 to 12 knots, whale strikes will be reduced by an estimated 50 percent.

“The Pelican Grief” was produced by Bryan Cubias, Marcee Davis, Gina Romero and Dakota Slama and highlighted abuse of the Californian Brown Pelican, detailing the plight of five pelicans with wings forcibly broken that were brought to the local Wildlife Care Center.

Finally, “Eviction Day” — produced by Matt Linkin, Jake Martin, Osman Noor, Ian Vargas and Chloe Vaught — chronicled the reintegration of homeless people living in the Ventura River Basin into society through a temporary campground called River Haven.

According to Linkin, a fourth-year film and media studies major, many of the residents depicted in Eviction Day suffer from mental illness, disabilities, addiction and job loss and lack the malice that is often assumed of them. “These little stories are all fascinating and need to be told,” Linkin said. “They are the most interesting and often heartbreaking stories.”

“No Otter Zone” and Eviction Day both screened at the Ojai Film Festival in October. Vaught, a fourth-year political science and geography major, said conditions in the river where they filmed were unimaginably harsh for residents. “There was actually a man there who was evicted from the river. He said he was glad he was out of there because the conditions were so bad,” Vaught said.

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A version of this article appeared on page 1 of November 28th, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.