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Observes the daily life of a family running an oyster farm in a lake on the SE coast of Australia, as they deal with climate change, pollution, and the fickleness of consumers.

A printer-friendly version of this page 80 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Kim Beamish
Produced by Pat Fiske
Editor: Denise Haslem ASE
Cinematographer, Co-Producer: Kim Beamish
Composer: Mike Dooley
Sound Design and Mix: Michael Gissing

"Documents the ecological and social complexities of aquaculture in a volatile age...timely and visually memorable." Sarah Besky, Asst Prof, Anthropology, Brown Univ
OYSTER captures the daily routines, chaos and drama in the lives of Dom and Pip Boyton, a lively and hard-working second generation oyster farming family on Merimbula Lake on the southeast coast of New South Wales, Australia.

The film watches as Dom and Pip juggle the demands of parenting two precocious young boys with the long hours, logistical decision-making and labor required to keep their crop of Sydney rock oysters healthy and thriving. The Boytons and the other members of their oyster farmer collective face a host of challenges, from climate change and the threat of environmental disaster to the fickleness of the buyers and luxury markets that the collective depends on.

Oysters have been called "the canaries of the estuaries" due to their importance as bioindicators, and as we watch Dom and Pip combat threats to their vulnerable operation—such as the proliferation of the invasive Pacific oyster and bacterial contamination triggered by severe "east coast low" storms and an influx of vacationers—OYSTER presents a unique and intimate look at a business whose fortunes are entwined with the health and stewardship of the environment.

Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2019     Copyright Date: 2017
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-27-5

"Oyster is a well-told local story of coastal farming and stewardship with a global message - healthy environments promote healthy seafood. The story balances the benefits and hardships that come with oyster farming, and provides the audience with food for thought regarding their future, be it in shellfish farming, preserving our coasts, or protecting the environment."
Sandra Shumway, Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut

"Oyster documents the ecological and social complexities of aquaculture in a volatile age. It is a timely and visually memorable film for anyone interested in food studies, fisheries, or coastal economies."
Sarah Besky, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University, Author, How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet

"Oyster is a beautiful portrait of a family and their oyster farm. It is a story that reminds us of the effort that goes into producing the food we eat and the inseparable connection between the health of the marine environment and the sustainability of those who depend on it to support their livelihoods."
Joshua Stoll, Assistant Research Professor of Marine Policy, University of Maine

"Take the time to enjoy life with oyster farmer Dom and his young family as they grow, sort and market Sydney Rock oysters - my absolute favorite - in the almost pristine waters of Merimbula Lake. Life in the coastal paradise 400 kilometers south of Sydney brings highs and lows: orders of 500 dozen oysters at Christmas, impacts of the influx summer holidaymakers and poor town planning, once-in-a-decade ocean storms, inexorably rising ocean temperatures, and the threat of the dreaded parasite 'QX.'"
Tony Haymet, Emeritus Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California - San Diego

"Oyster provides an eye-opening entre to a world rarely seen by the average seafood consumer. Beautifully shot, gentle, and engaging, this film will be of interest to those wanting to understand the complex interplay of environmental, economic, social and political factors that contribute to the fortunes of a business, a family, and a way of life."
Tanya King, Senior Lecturer of Anthropology, Deakin University

"Rather than attempt to glamorize the industry, the film showcases the reality for oyster farmers, including the daily operational challenges that are often not apparent to someone on the outside. Oyster would be especially useful to give prospective farmers a better understanding of the business they're considering, as well as to provide a window to the industry for more general audiences."
Adriane Michaelis, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland

"Oyster provides viewers with the day to day challenges facing oyster farmers. The film does a good job portraying external threats to farmers' livelihoods from issues like sewage spills and dealing with the aftermath that influences farmers, supply chains and consumers. This film is based in Australia, but the same issues also exist in the U.S. and elsewhere."
Dave Love, Associate Scientist, Seafood, Public Health and Food Systems Project, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University

"This beautiful ethnographic film drives home the precarious nature of seafood production, and the deep commitment producers have to both maintaining a healthy ecosystem and feeding their local communities. Oysterillustrates the local impacts of global climate change, particularly water quality conditions and invasive species."
Jennifer Sweeney Tookes, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Georgia Southern University

"A day in the life of an oyster farmer, with all of the risks being showcased up front and a more subtle demonstration of the rewards that come with the lifestyle as the backdrop. There are many facets of this film that could be highlighted in an educational setting with application to sustainability of food production, aquaculture and marine resource management."
Dale Leavitt, Professor of Marine Biology, Aquaculture Extension Specialist, Roger Williams University

"Oyster is a high quality, measured look at the challenges and opportunities for growing oysters in a changing climate. The film will be a valuable resource for instructors to expose undergraduate and graduate audiences to social, economic and biophysical aspects of climate change and aquaculture. I'd highly recommend this film as an introduction or for more in depth examination of the complexities of these dynamics."
Dawn Kotowicz, Marine Research Associate, Climate Resilience and Fisheries, University of Rhode Island

"Pip Boyton...speak[s] to the close connections that family farmers feel for their patch of the earth, whether they're cultivating their crop on land, sea, or a fraught combination of both. Oyster brings to life the very personal and professional quest of an Australian family to keep their risky yet rewarding endeavor afloat despite the perennial threat of storms, diseases, and climate disruption."
Christine Keiner, Chair of Science, Technology, and Society, Rochester Institute of Technology, Author, The Oyster Question: Scientists, Watermen, and the Maryland Chesapeake Bay

"The film effectively illustrates the interconnections between global warming, disease, market forces and farmer livelihoods - all of which ultimately impact the survival of communities. Viewers gain a profound understanding of how closely tied the sustainability and health of our food system is to the effects of climate change...Oyster will be of particular interest to instructors of Environmental Studies, Geography, Food Systems, Sustainable Development, Environmental Anthropology, Environmental Biology, and Environmental Sociology."
Holly Hapke, Director of Research Development, Social Sciences and Social Ecology, University of California - Irvine

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection

The film's website
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Awards and Festivals
Best Environmental Feature Film, Chesapeake Film Festival
Finalist, Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, Sydney Film Festival
Canberra International Film Festival
Friday Harbor Film Festival
Matsalu Nature Film Festival
Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival
River's Edge International Film Festival

Business Practices
Climate Change/Global Warming
Food And Nutrition
Marine Biology
Oceans and Coasts
Pacific Studies
Sustainable Agriculture

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