More than 300 people attended the premiere of Beautiful Swimmers Revisited March 19 at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. So many people wanted to come, in fact, that the film sold out online — and tickets only became available when cold, rainy weather dissuaded some moviegoers from leaving home.
The Bay Journal produced the film. Sandy-Cannon Brown directed it. Bay Journal photographer David Harp shot much of it, in stills and video, making his first foray into feature film cinematography. Tom Horton was the star, taking viewers on his skiff through the marshes of Smith and Tangier Islands and along the hardened shorelines closer to Annapolis.
This film is the Bay Journal’s first. Our whole staff is incredibly proud of it. Harp just turned 69 and Horton is 70, but they seem to be at the height of their creativity now, pushing themselves to new endeavors.
The film revisits many of the people and places that William Warner chronicled in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Beautiful Swimmers. Warner wrote the book in 1976, at a time when crabbers had almost no restrictions on their harvest and crabs were so plentiful that few scientists bothered to study them.
Today, of course, there are size limits, hour limits, requirements for cull rings, regulations to report catches and other rules.
Scientists, including Tom Miller of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, spend their careers researching the iconic crustaceans. Miller is featured in the film, along with Anson “Tuck” Hines of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Rom Lipcius of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the hard-working young scientists counting crabs for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ annual winter dredge survey.
Horton leads viewers through environmental changes in the waterway, and introduces us not only to some of the crabbers Warner met but also to some younger guys trying to get into the business. They are smart, thoughtful crabbers, and they wonder how long the waterways will continue to nurture these beautiful swimmers.
At the screening, Caroline Gabel, president and CEO of the Shared Earth Foundation and chair of the festival’s board, called the trio of filmmakers “most worthy successors” to Warner. His children were in the audience and supported the film.
Here are some upcoming opportunities to see Beautiful Swimmers Revisited:
≈ Salisbury University, Henson Hall, Room 242, Salisbury, MD. 7 p.m. April 13. Free.
≈ Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, 447 Race Street, Cambridge, MD. 6:30 p.m. April 15. Admission: $20, cash bar. Contact: Beth Ann Lynch, email@example.com.
≈ Chesapeake Biological Lab, Bernie Fowler Bldg., 142 Williams St., Solomons, MD.
7 p.m. April 19. Free.
≈ Midshore Riverkeepers & Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Avalon Theatre, Easton, MD. 6:30 p.m. April 20. Admission: $15, cash bar.
≈ Maryland Public Television, 9 p.m. April 26. One of MPT’s Bay Week presentations.