PT filmmakers stream documentary of oyster farmers to raise funds for shellfish industry

Posted 4/29/20

Two years ago, Port Townsend documentarians Shelly Solomon and Kent Cornwell profiled how the Yamashita family, Japanese immigrants to America, helped resurrect oyster farming along America’s …

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PT filmmakers stream documentary of oyster farmers to raise funds for shellfish industry

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Two years ago, Port Townsend documentarians Shelly Solomon and Kent Cornwell profiled how the Yamashita family, Japanese immigrants to America, helped resurrect oyster farming along America’s Pacific Coast throughout the 20th century, through the release of their film “Ebb and Flow,” which was screened at the Rose Theatre in 2018.

The documentary film received a positive review in the April 24, 2018, issue of The Leader, and now, two years later, Solomon and Cornwell’s Leaping Frog Films aims to use “Ebb and Flow” to lend a helping hand to other oyster growers across America during the time of the coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, 95% of oyster sales are to restaurants,” Solomon said. “The oyster industries on both coasts are collapsing. I talked to a guy in charge of the East Coast industry the other day, and he said oyster distributors have taken semi-truck loads of oysters to the dump.”

With Solomon hearing accounts that nearly all seafood has plummeted in sales, she’d love to get people to buy oysters again locally, but in the meantime, from now until Sunday, May 17, Leaping Frog Films is streaming “Ebb and Flow” on demand at vimeo.com/ondemand/ebbandflow, with 25% of the profits going to the Pacific Coast, Willapa Bay, East Coast and Alaskan shellfish growers associations.

Although Solomon sees similarities between the current shellfish sales collapse and the crisis caused by pollution and over-harvesting of oysters in the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, she said, “What we’re going through is nothing” compared to what Japanese-Americans went through nearly a century ago, especially given the Japanese’s internment in America during World War II.

“People are grumbling about a few months in isolation, but how would they feel if their entire lives were turned upside down, as they were hauled off to concentration camps for years, through no fault of their own, only to return to their homes and find nothing left?” Solomon said. “It’s very humbling for people to see this story in today’s terms.”

Visit vimeo.com/ondemand/ebbandflow to watch the trailer or rent the film, and leapingfrogfilms.com/ebbandflow.html for more information.

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