Marine Sanctuary Partnership Brings “Lake Effect” Segment To Snowtown Film Festival – Oswego County Today

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Image from Oswego County website.

OSWEGO COUNTY – The proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council is partnering with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to bring a special segment of Great Lakes-themed films to Watertown’s Snowtown Film Festival from the Thunder Bay International Film Festival.

The event will be virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The special “Lake Effect” segment features five short films with a focus on the Great Lakes. Viewers can screen the films anytime between Friday, Jan. 29 and Sunday, Feb. 7.

A related interactive panel discussion includes individuals associated with the Great Lakes who are dedicated to preserving its maritime heritage sites. The discussion will live-stream at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31.

Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Ellen Brody will take part in the panel discussion. Brody works with Great Lakes communities on new sanctuary designations and nominations. She is currently leading the designation process for the proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary. Brody operates out of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, MI.

Joining Brody on the panel is Stephanie Gandulla, a maritime archaeologist and the research coordinator for NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, based in Alpena, MI. She has participated in projects around the world including the Great Lakes, the South Pacific, Sweden, Jamaica and the Arctic. As a NOAA scientific diver, Gandulla enjoys exploring and documenting the dozes of historic shipwrecks in Lake Huron’s sanctuary waters. She is also the festival coordinator for the Thunder Bay International Film Festival.

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Katie Malinowski will participate in the panel as well. A lifelong resident of Cayuga, Jefferson and Oswego counties, Malinowski is the executive director of the Tug Hill Commission. On her own time, she is a citizen-at-large member and vice chair of the proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Malinowski works to help communities learn more about the proposed Lake Ontario sanctuary and understand the opportunities and benefits the designation will bring to the area. She helped coordinate this effort to bring these two film festivals together.

Filmmaker Nick Zachar will also take part in the panel discussion. He works for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries as a video production coordinator and diver. In his current role, Zachar finds and shares stories about America’s underwater treasures and the people who dedicate their lives to taking care of them. He specializes in field production and hopes his storytelling inspires viewers to take action to help protect our blue planet.

The Great Lakes-related films scheduled to be shown as part of the Snowtown Film Festival include:

  • “Project Ship Hunt” (44 mins.) – Five high school students from Saginaw use state-of-the-art technology to search for a lost ship in Lake Huron’s infamous “Shipwreck Alley.”
  • “The Big Five Dive” (27 mins.) – A group of women attempt to dive one historic site in all five Great Lakes within the span of 24 hours.
  • “Explore the Blue: 360 ‘Shipwreck Alley’” (3 mins.) – A tour through “Shipwreck Alley” near the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
  • “Crossing Lake Huron” (30 mins.) – Three men attempt to cross Lake Huron from the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to Tobermorey, Ontario on stand-up paddle boards. The 90-mile open water crossing travels through “Shipwreck Alley” and some of the most treacherous waters in the world.
  • “November Requiem” (56 mins.) – The 1958 sinking of the limestone freighter Carl D. Bradley as told from the viewpoint of the families of Rogers City, MI; home to 23 of the ship’s crew. With 33 souls on board, the ship was lost during a brutal Lake Michigan storm.
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This partnership aims to bring more attention to the scenic beauty and fascinating heritage of the Great Lakes area by sharing these films with a broader audience.

For more information about the Snowtown Film Festival or to get virtual film passes, go to or email [email protected]



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