Dear Friends,

Lights, Camera…Take Action!

Last month we celebrated the 6th Annual Thunder Bay International Film Festival (TBIFF). Our team is grateful for all of our dedicated partners, generous sponsors, passionate volunteers, and enthusiastic fans that made the festival our most successful one to date. The festival has not only become one of the sanctuary’s signature outreach events, it has also gained attention and media coverage across the state and around the world. If you attended any of the programs, in Harrisville, Rogers City or Alpena, I am certain you were moved by the powerful and entertaining films.

While the core of the TBIFF continues to grow and improve every year, in 2018 we made significant progress in our efforts to use the festival to further engage the youth of northeast Michigan. In this issue of Thunderstruck, you will learn about incredible films that premiered in our Student Film Competition, and how, with the help from a Community Foundation Northeast Michigan Youth Advisory Council grant, nearly a thousand students experienced the festival.

Over the past six years, I have had the opportunity to witness the impact the film festival is having on the sanctuary and our community. The festival has helped promote northeast Michigan as a destination. The festival has encouraged individuals to support the sanctuary’s mission. The festival has inspired community action, such as a group of area students that are working to protect our Great Lakes by encouraging their schools, homes, and local restaurants to quit using one-time-use plastic straws, containers, and plastic bags. Inspired by these student actions, we are working toward making events at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center “zero waste.”

TBIFF has clearly illustrated the power of film. So why limit it to one week a year? Because of the success of the film festival, we are launching a monthly film and lecture series at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. You can find a link to the schedule below. In the coming months, we will be expanding our programming even further with events scheduled in Harrisville and Roger City. Watch for more details and then take action.

Thank you for helping the sanctuary and the Friends of TBNMS protect the Great Lakes and their rich history!

Jeff Gray
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary