TERRA ANTARCTICA wins ….
Spent a fantastic weekend in Savannah, Georgia – where I’d never been before – watching the very best films out there today about whales-sharks & dolphins, a variety focused on David v. Goliath battles between oil/mining companies and indigenous fishermen and a few powerful tear-jerkers illustrating man’s inhumanity towards the sea and its creatures. After four days at the first-ever Blue Ocean Film Festival I couldn’t feel more enthused and committed and simultaneously evermore concerned about the issues facing the world’s ocean.
Accompanied by some of the leading lights in the ocean/environmental movement – Sylvia Earle, Celine and Fabien Cousteau, Carl Safina – it was incredible to spend a few days mingling with the choir and comparing notes about the state of the seas. While it would be easy to fall into a pessimistic chant – the ocean is warming, plastic in it is mounting, fish are disappearing faster than anyone could have predicted – it was heartening to hear just how hopeful and optimistic the gathering crowd could be. I think that optimism derives from a crowd that truly loves the ocean – truly – especially that feeling of diving into the blue whether hot or cold or simply standing on the beach staring for hours at a time at that thin line on the horizon where blue meets blue.
It was the first time I’d shown our just-finished TERRA ANTARCTICA, Rediscovering the Seventh Continent. Previously only a small handful of editors and friends had seen the finished, one-hour film about our 2008 expedition along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. To show it was great on two levels: To see all that beautiful high definition video displayed at nearly life size on a giant screen and for the extremely complimentary comment afterwards.
With great serendipity, on its first screening the judges apparently regarded it one of the best. More than 200 films were entered into the festival’s competition and 50 were screened over the weekend. Only six were chosen to “compete” for the “best of festival” prize. TERRA was included on the short list, both a great honor and tremendous surprise.
That short list was prestigious and heavy: A $5.4 million IMAX film (“Wild Ocean”), Jean-Michel Cousteau’s most recent (“Call of the Killer Whale”), this year’s ‘Audience Favorite’ at Sundance (“The Cove”), a 21-time festival winner (“Saving Luna”) and one from the BBC and David Attenborough (“The Great Tide”). Plus, TERRA ANTARCTICA, a unique look at the health of Antarctica’s peninsula and its ice at a decidedly important moment in history.
In the end, “The Cove” was named “Best” overall; TERRA ANTARCTICA won the prize for best “Ocean Issues” film, a perfect fit. The definition of the category was “the film that most effectively raises awareness and increases understanding about environmental and sustainability issues facing the oceans and its inhabitants.”
Which is the most incredible honorific for my team and me; that is exactly our mission – to bring back stories about the health of the world’s ocean and the lives of people who depend on it. Period. While cliché, it was fantastic to be included in such high-end company and I encourage everyone to do anything they can to see “The Cove” and “Wild Ocean.” (Though my two personal faves of the festival? “Red Gold” and “Dugong and Din” ……). I’ll keep you posted as to when and where TERRA ANTARCTICA will show next.