Here at Mission Blue we love the BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit and we couldn’t be more excited to be on the ground at BLUE 2014 this week! The festivities kick off today in St. Petersburg, FL for seven days of ocean appreciation that will include film screenings, presentations by marine conservation and film industry all-stars, special exhibitions and the “Oscars of the ocean.”
Hosted at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, BLUE draws a diverse crowd from film and TV celebrities to marine scientists and explorers to families and schoolchildren. “Ocean issues urgently need our attention and not just for the well being of future generations, but for the health of our own children,” said Debbie Kinder, Co-Founder and CEO of BLUE. “If humanity’s life support system is lost, little else matters. I believe film and entertainment are the most powerful tools we have for reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time, hopefully before our only choice is crisis management.”
Today’s highlights include the Opening Night Film – a special screening of James Cameron’s DeepSea Challenge 3D followed by a Q&A by the expedition team at the Mahaffey Theater. James Cameron’s diving sphere will be on view throughout the event.
On Tuesday, Mission Blue Board Director and Google Ocean Program Manager Jenifer Austin and Mission 31’s Fabien Cousteau will unveil remarkable new Google StreetView images from the Florida Coast presented in partnership with Catlin Seaview Survey. Jenifer Austin describes BLUE as “a unique gathering of filmmakers, storytellers, and technologists who come together to figure out how to ignite public passion for the ocean.”
Keynotes throughout the week will include presentations by Sir Robert Swan (the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles), Professor Callum Roberts on “The Unnatural History of the Ocean” and marine protected areas, and Wallace J. Nichols on his NY Times Bestseller Blue Mind.
Other seminars and panels during the week’s conservation summit will cover a range of topics from the latest scientific findings on threats to ocean health like climate change and plastic pollution to technological breakthroughs in underwater filmmaking. Luncheons will feature award ceremonies for ocean heroes including Sir Richard Branson, as well as a panel on the new National Marine Sanctuary nomination process.
In the evenings, special film presentations will include Mission Blue with Sylvia Earle, footage from Mission 31 with Fabien Cousteau, and the U.S. premier of Antarctica 3D: On the Edge. Blocks of film screenings will also entertain and inspire attendees throughout each day of the conference, as will exhibits of work by renowned underwater photographers including Michael Aw and David Doubilet, who has produced nearly 70 stories for the National Geographic Magazine since 1971.
A major highlight of the week will come on Friday at the BLUE Carpet Awards and Gala. The awards ceremony truly is the Oscars of the Ocean, recognizing over 150 international films from two-minute animation shorts to feature-length in 22 categories selected by a team of over 50 judges. Winning films from the BLUE Carpet Awards will be screened all day on Sunday November 9th.
The festivities will wind down over the weekend with a special screening of the film Ocean Voyagers accompanied by a live performance of the score by the Florida Orchestra. In addition to screening winning BLUE films, Sunday’s closing events will include a presentation of Academy Award winning actor and advocate Jeremy Irons’ ocean pollution documentary, Trashed, before the Wrap Party and Closing Ceremony.
BLUE alternates venues each year between St. Petersburg, FL and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco through a strategic partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. HSH Prince Albert II praises the event as using “the power of film, photography, entertainment and science to educate, empower and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe.” He says, “To awaken consciousness toward environmental protection more effectively, our best weapons are those that win over our hearts and minds.”
The impressive variety of presentations, screenings and events this week may seem broad, but they are sure to aim for a consistent outcome: raising awareness about the plight of our oceans and how we can act to protect them. Stay tuned for more on BLUE 2014 as the week progresses!
Featured image (top): Dr. Sylvia Earle (center) with Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Dan Laffoley, James Cameron and BLUE Founder and CEO Debbie Kinder (right) at BLUE 2012. © BLUE Ocean Film Festival
By Courtney Mattison