Acclaimed International Ocean Film Festival, Conservation Event Moving To Monterey Peninsula

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The BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit will relocate its global ocean-focused event to the Monterey Peninsula beginning in 2010, festival officials announced today (Wednesday, December 16) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the presenting sponsor for the 2010 BLUE.

Films play a key role in connecting people everywhere with the beauty and wonder of the oceans.

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The BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit will relocate its global ocean-focused event to the Monterey Peninsula beginning in 2010, festival officials announced today (Wednesday, December 16) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The initial Monterey festival – with the aquarium as the presenting sponsor – is planned for August 25-29, 2010.

BLUE’s international film competition Call for Submissions will open in mid-January and film festival passes for the inaugural Monterey event will go on sale in late February.

“With the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the many research and conservation organizations based here, the Monterey Peninsula is truly an epicenter of all things ocean,” said Debbie Kinder, executive director of the festival. “Given our mission ‘to use the power of film and visual media to help protect the oceans and the life within,’ and our vision for the industry conference to empower and inspire ocean professionals to create great films and media that inspire better ocean stewardship, we found the Monterey Bay area to be an ideal place to base our international event and outreach efforts.”

Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard welcomed the decision to move the festival to Monterey.

“Films play a key role in connecting people everywhere with the beauty and wonder of the oceans,” Packard said. “Done well, they can compel people to care more, then do more to protect the oceans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s expertise is in exhibiting living creatures, but some stories are best told through film. We’re very pleased to support BLUE as the festival’s presenting sponsor. It’s an event we feel is both important and needed.”

Since its debut in June 2009, BLUE has been recognized for bringing together the world’s greatest collection of ocean films, esteemed filmmakers and marine experts. It is also the first event of its kind to combine an international ocean film competition, a professional underwater filmmakers’ and photographers’ conference, and high-profile conservation presentations, along with community educational outreach and entertainment activities.

“What a beautiful platform, and one that takes us one step closer to nurturing our ocean planet back to health,” said Fabien Cousteau, an ocean explorer, environmentalist and member of the festival advisory board.

The move to the Monterey Peninsula comes after the successful launch of the inaugural BLUE festival in Savannah, Georgia in June, and invitations to make a permanent home on the West Coast from Dan Basta, director of the National Marine Sanctuary system, Bill Douros, West Coast Regional Director for the National Marine Sanctuaries and Pacific Grove-based filmmaker Bob Talbot, Kinder said.

After several scouting trips and encouraging meetings with the aquarium and community leaders including Ted Balestreri of the Cannery Row Company, organizers decided to make the move, she said.

“We have been made to feel very welcome here, and the commitment of the Monterey Bay Aquarium to come on board as our Presenting Sponsor was a key factor in our making the final decision to move our event,” Kinder added.

Additional community support has come from the Cannery Row Company, which has stepped up in a leadership capacity as a Gold Sponsor, the Code BLUE Charitable Foundation, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries, Lisa Coscino Gallery, Kate Miller of Marine Mammal Conservation Through the Arts, as well as support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

In addition to the comprehensive industry conference, BLUE will offer an outstanding five-day agenda for community participation in fun activities: the screening of 50-plus award-winning ocean films, exhibits of acclaimed underwater photography and visual arts, opportunities to hear from renowned filmmakers, photographers, ocean conservation advocates, policy makers and celebrities, along with VIP parties and entertaining activities for the whole family.

In addition, highlights already confirmed for the 2010 festival include:    

  • The BLUE Carpet Awards Ceremony, with the presentation of 15 film awards, including a new category for the Best Film about Monterey Bay, and the Sylvia Earle Outstanding Ocean Advocacy Award. Dr. Earle will herself present the advocacy award, which was named in her honor at the inaugural BLUE festival.
  • Jacques Yves Cousteau at 100: A tribute to the pioneering work of this ocean icon with presentations by family members and screenings of some of his earliest films.
  • Message in a Buoy: A community educational outreach initiative in conjunction with NOAA and the West Coast Region National Marine Sanctuaries that provides an opportunity for schoolchildren to participate in the launch of data-gathering ocean drifters and subsequently to track the buoys’ voyages on ocean currents via the internet.

“While BLUE is moving to the West Coast, we haven’t forgotten the efforts and support of the Savannah community,” said Charles Kinder of Make A Difference Media, the chief financial officer of BLUE. “Given the uncertain economic environment of 2009, we were delighted with the success of BLUE this past June in Savannah, and we will remain engaged in that community through our BLUE on Tour outreach initiatives. We will also continue to work with the Gray’s Reef Ocean Film Festival.”

For more information on BLUE: A Global Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit, visit http://www.bluefilmfest.com or http://www.montereybayaquarium.org.

About the BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit
The BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit is a project of Make A Difference Media (MADM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to using the power of media to make a positive impact on important global issues. MADM is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.
For more information, visit http://www.makeadifferencemedia.org.

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium
The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. Through its award-winning exhibits, education programs cutting-edge marine research and conservation advocacy initiatives, it has established itself as a leader among aquariums worldwide. It is consistently ranked as the No. 1 aquarium in the United States and the top aquarium for families. For more information, visit http://www.montereybayaquarium.org.

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Karen Jeffries

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Debbie Kinder

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