Film Night – Cold Refuge

Public Events
Saturday, May 27, 2023 7:30 pm
Event registration ended at Saturday, May 27, 2023 8:30 pm.


Most people think it’s completely nuts to jump into cold water with sharks and sea lions who could kill you. But these adverse conditions in San Francisco Bay are nothing compared to the adversities some of the swimmers in Cold Refuge face in their own lives.

The film’s diverse subjects include a wheelchair-bound, paralyzed swimmer who faces fear by diving off a high pier; a Black man who was told by whites when he was 13 that “Black people don’t swim” (it took him 30 years to try); a blind man who tethers himself to a sighted swimmer; a woman with aggressive breast cancer who “swims to chemo;” a lawyer who reduces courtroom stress in the open water; and a young woman who communes with her late mother in San Francisco Bay, where they both swam together.

Cold Refuge poster

 Cold Refuge is about the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of full immersion in the natural world: how, though it may seem counter-intuitive, swimming in cold water helps mitigate some of life's most serious challenges.

Along with swimmers’ stories of adversity and resilience, the film’s marine mammals, birds, artwork, and a variety of open-water locations create a visual meditation on what it means to escape our abstract digital world in favor of what’s real. It is not a testimonial, but an example.

Q&A with the filmmaker after the screening

Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, and Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons. In 2015 Judy was invited to become a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Judy Irving

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