Blue Ocean Film Festival Makes Waves In Monaco, As Cop21 Approaches
It does not drive voter turnout, as much as hot button, easily gamed issues like illegal immigration and taxes do.
Nevertheless, inside environmentalist circles, marine protection is that stepchild. Though 48% of human-produced carbon dioxide ends up in the ocean, causing Ph levels to drop and deadly acidification to rise, most environmental activism centers on terrestrial degradation. You may current marine protection as Chilean Sea Bass, however most politicians and activists still view it as Patagonian toothfish.
The just-concluded Blue Ocean Festival and Conservation Summit goals to right that imbalance. Blue offers a uncommon probability to see a range of long and short films exclusively focused on marine protection.
Moreover, at Blue, one gets to chat with the engaging marine photographers, scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and philanthropists (typically multi functional person) working to place ocean preservation at the forefront of environmental protection, especially as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) approaches next month in Paris.
There’s logic in Blue’s strategy. Because the deep oceans are largely out of sight and out of mind for most of our species, an ideal way to raise awareness of their exotic beauty and imperiled state is through film. The challenge facing a festival of this type is in making a program various and compelling enough that it doesn’t end up as one long episode of The Blue Planet, minus the BBC’s production values.
Launched in Monterey, California in 2009 by the St. Petersburg, Florida — by way of West Virginia — couple of Debbie and Charles Kinder, Blue is on its way to getting the combo right. This past week’s festival in Monaco (the 2017 festival will also play in the principality) highlighted stellar examples of the marine documentary kind.
For example, Florian Fischer’s and Michael Kugler’s 7-minute narrative short Shark and Lion artfully showcases the threat posed by the invasive lionfish.
Documentary options like Angel Azul (which chronicles the work of eco-sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor)
and doc shorts like Silke de Vos’ Coral Gardening (which follows Anuar Abdullah, founder of Ocean Quest Malaysia)
profile the frontline victims of global warming, runoff, and excessive human interaction: the fragile indicator creature sac a dos stone island generally known as coral.
Coral reefs are home to 25% of the world’s marine fish species, and comprise virtually your entire nation of Kiribati, whose President, Anote Tong, spoke movingly at Blue
about plans to uproot his folks to Fiji, unless $2 billion is raised to turn Kiribati (endangered by rising seas and coral destruction) into a Waterworld-like floating island.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 27% of the world’s coral reefs have already been lost. If present trends persist, 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be lost within the next 30 years.
Just a few films at Blue might strike some as preachy and pedantic. Others could use more editing. As a producer and director of three documentaries (Crotty’s Kids, Grasp Debaters, Apryl Miller: Color and Soul), I’ve learned that the money quote of Shakespeare’s Polonius – “brevity is the soul of wit” – is all too pertinent to the typically prolix and humorless documentary form.
Nevertheless, as cartoonist Jim Toomey — creator of the ocean-themed caricature Sherman’s Lagoon
and director of the Blue-nominated short Two Miles Deep — instructed me over steak frites across from the Monaco carnival (where, true to my invasive species, I later charged into the funhouse, in full Brooks Brothers suit, with a multinational gaggle of political science students from nearby Undergraduate College of Menton), “You will doubtless see higher manufacturing values in something shown on Animal Planet. That’s because the main target is leisure. The movies at Blue” — chosen as they are by an eight-person jury of environmentalists, scientists, and filmmakers — “go deeper.”
True ‘dat, as the short doc, The edge, about a photographer who films sharks at night, poetically makes clear.
But there’s one thing deeply private that goes on as properly. Watching wave after wave of honest, straightforward depictions of intensely variegated ocean life starts to affect how one views all species. I literally underwent a sea change of the center, as I noticed how even probably the most repulsive or violent or odd-wanting organism had its place within the larger ocean scheme. One cannot help however increase one’s acceptance of radical variety in humans after viewing such epic and interconnected diversity in nature.
This openhearted spirit was perfectly modeled by the Kinders and their nimble worldwide staff (which features a former undercover high quality assurance marketing consultant for Starwood Hotels & Resorts). Furthermore, they instinctively demonstrated the hallmarks of an incredible festival outlined in my two earlier columns on the Santa Barbara and Palm Springs movie festivals respectively.
First, Blue is now no less than partially positioned in a locale, Monaco, which is fulsomely committed to responsible tourism and historically aligned with the festival’s ocean mandate. Underneath the wise, stalwart management of His Serene Excellency Prince Albert II (himself an avid explorer, who’s been to the north and south poles, and who courageously lead the cost to restrict the fishing and sale of the endangered Mediterranean bluefin tuna),
Monaco has been at the forefront of ocean safety for well over one hundred years. Prince Albert II took the ocean safety helm from his nice-nice-grandfather and explorer, Prince Albert I, who based Monaco’s breathtaking Baroque Revival Oceanographic Museum (the place Blue is held).
Secondly, Blue is conscious of the necessity for extraordinary customer support, going to extra pains to ensure that guests are graciously served at multiple points of contact. This is important because the prospect of visiting upscale, out-of-the-method Monaco can appear daunting to many potential attendees.
I witnessed few missteps both on the festival or in getting there. My reasonably priced Swiss Air flight from Los Angeles to Zurich and on to nearby Nice (and via Heli Air to Monaco), was easy Stone Island Sale and quick. As well as, the on-board amenities – a Swiss-themed consolation package, exemplary headphones, superb cuisine (from a unique Swiss canton every three months), and a large seat (with built-in massager) that reclined into a full bed — have been the perfect I’ve had in any airplane class.
The one weakness — a Swiss Air steward assured me that is being remedied — was the lack of Web and live satellite Tv. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the reprieve from being fully connected.
Moreover, in the extraordinarily safe, extremely clean (you allegedly want a bachelor’s degree to even work as a Monaco street cleaner) confines of the world’s second-smallest nation, one feels removed from wider world concerns. I call it the Monaco bubble.
That does not mean one is denied the esoteric indulgences of home. For example, The Resort Metropole (Monaco’s solely independently-owned “palace” property) provides a vegetarian, gluten-free eight-course “meals and life” tasting menu, courtesy of culinary auteur Joel Robuchon. While I chose not to join my fellow Russian and English plutocrats at the Metropole, my perfectly suitable Novotel room came with a full ocean view and hot daily breakfast, at a worth comparable to a mid-range Manhattan resort.
Monaco’s walkable size makes getting from any resort to Blue a veritable sea breeze. Though the constitutional monarchy has instituted several forms of green transport, I encourage attendees to walk to and from the festival in order to take in the insanely beautiful grandeur that leads up to and across the towering Oceanographic Museum. The highlights include two gardens, a hidden beach accessible by a series of elegant stone steps (putting Malibu’s Matador Beach steps to shame), and spectacular ocean views like few others on the Riviera. Oh, and for these not bothered by such issues, an aquarium that is considered one of the best on the earth.
I typically recommend that boutique festivals keep all venues within walking distance. By centralizing programming in the Oceanographic Museum (whose former director was – from 1959-1988 – none other than Jacque-Yves Cousteau), and by keeping the festival small and intimate, Blue makes it easy to meet the Who’s Who of Marine Protection.
Pioneers like Cristina Mittermeier (Sea Legacy), Dieter Paulmann (Okeanos),
the inimitable Carl Gustaf Lundin (IUCN), Sylvia Earle (Mission Blue), Anisa Kamadoli Costa (Tiffany & Co Basis), Torsten Thiele (Global Ocean Trust) and Louie Psihoyos (indomitable, if righteously vegan, director of the preeminent environmental film of our time Racing Extinction, which debuts on Discovery just as COP21 begins)
are making blue the new green in more ways than one.
These connections can be later deepened over advantageous amaretto (go ask Alice)
on the Resort Hermitage’s lovely Crystal Bar or at sundry different posh redoubts in one of the world’s most visually spectacular festival backdrops.
Luxury and social good could be paired like the best Monegasque meals and wine, if a festival has the precise perspective. Taking a cue from Monaco’s humble, selfless, and far-beloved Prince, and with sponsorship from the likes of Rolex and Tiffany (which no longer makes use of coral in its jewelry), Blue is on its approach to getting that pairing proper.
In the subsequent few years, as Blue strives to draw extra of town-state’s 328,000 annual vacationers, in addition to its affluent locals (for whom the Grand Prix and Yacht Present stay the massive attracts), and finds methods to host screenings and occasions in and round Monaco’s evocative ocean milieu, whereas making certain that festival eating places serve sustainably raised seafood, it might simply turn out to be the main nature-based film festival on planet earth.
– James Marshall Crotty
If you wish to re-publish this story, or deploy Mr. Crotty as a speaker, writer or moderator, please contact him at www.jamescrotty.com.