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Take Me To The Ocean - still #1
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Take Me To The Ocean

East Coast Premiere

Director: Ilanna Barkusky

United States, 2023, 6 min

Festival Year:2024

Category:Documentary Short

Cast:Erena Shimoda

Crew:Producer: Ilanna Barkusky.


In the aftermath of a car accident that changes her life in a single moment, Erena struggles with survivor's guilt and depression. Seeking solace, she turns to the water which holds a deep connection to childhood memories of time shared with her father. Through submerging herself in the ocean, she feels an emotional connection and comfort that helps her process her loss. She shares this healing power through underwater portrait sessions with veterans, cancer and trauma survivors. Honouring her father's generous spirit in this way provides her with the path forward.


About the director

Ilanna is a Canadian filmmaker and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her work looks to showcase the beauty of movement and the strength of the human spirit. She was most recently recognized by shots with a silver award as the New Director of the Year for the Americas. Her work has also been recognized by the Art Director's Club and American Photography. Her first and second short films have screened at festivals including the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFilm), AmDocs and Cinequest. She is passionate about being involved in the creative community, as a member of the board of directors for the west coast chapter of The One Club for Creativity, as well as a jury member of industry award shows like the ADC Awards and One Awards.

Website Filmography

Filmmaker's note

Take Me to The Ocean is a short glimpse into the backstory of an inspiring individual who captures the essence of the ocean, both in healing and in strength. After a car accident left her with survivor's guilt after the death of her father, Erena struggled with depression before realizing she could turn to the healing power of the water. To move forward, she felt it necessary to share this gift with others, resulting in her transformative work underwater with survivors of cancer, abuse, and veterans.

It was an honour to have the opportunity to showcase Erena's connection with the ocean, which runs in parallel with her unbreakable bond to her father. She beautifully acts as an ambassador for the world that lies below the surface, speaking to its vital role as a healer of our emotional wounds with a sense of grace.

At present, the ocean is in peril from overfishing, pollution, and climate change. This film intends to draw our attention to the healing power of the natural world, and encourages us to steward what is important and sacred to all life on the planet.

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