Filmmaker Q&A: Josefina Bergsten

Josefina Bergsten is the director, who started out in Asia as a photojournalist for international newspapers and as photographer and writer for the Asian Human Rights Commission. After five years of visual arts studies, including film studies, at the University of Hong Kong, she worked on a number of TV productions and documentaries in the region. Through her production company,   Pictures by the Wayside, Josefina has been making documentaries and promos for the Hong Kong Shark Foundation and other NGOs on environmental, humanitarian, and human rights issues. Josefina was not alone in making “Fin” she also had help from producers: Claire Garner, Andy Limond, and Alex Hofford.

Fin: Hong Kong, Asia’s world city, is responsible for over half of the global trade in shark fins, with 73 million sharks fins traded annually. The fin trade is contributing to the rapidly falling shark populations. As apex predators, sharks play a crucial part in maintaining the balance in the oceanic ecosystem. The increased demand for shark products, particularly soup, from China’s emerging middle class is a key cause of this decline. “Fin” strives to educate and inform people about sharks and shark fin consumption, to help each viewer make their own personal decision about choosing to preserve these amazing creatures.

Jigantic Jenga: Josefina Bergsten filmed “Jigantic Jenga” at an event organized by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation (together with the Humane Society International and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). The students pull "marine elements" out of the jenga until the tower collapses, highlighting the importance of preserving the balance in the marine eco system.

What was your inspiration for creating the film? As a founding member of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation and a filmmaker, it was natural for me to focus on films about sharks and the marine environment.

What was the most challenging part of creating the film? Making “Fin” engaging and inspiring, while also being truthful without being gory.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers? I want to impart the importance of protecting our marine environment and to be a responsible consumer.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating the film? Working on such important issues.

Who (or what) is your inspiration? My inspiration is the passionate marine activists around the world.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films? As I mentioned prior, as a founding member of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation and a filmmaker, it was natural for me to focus on films about sharks and the marine environment. I started with marine-themed films in 2009.

Why did you choose to submit your film(s) to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival? I heard about the film festival and it was recommended that I submit by a man named Doug Woodring.

Is this your first time participating in an ocean-focused film festival? Yes!

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film? Winning the Audience Choice Award at the I Shot Hong Kong Film Festival for Fin.

Is there anything else that you would like to share? I wish I could be there for the festival. However, we will get many of the same films in Hong Kong in March, in Hong Kong's Ocean Film Festival organized by Doug Woodring.