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The Big Screen and the Deep Blue Sea

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Hosts BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, GA, June 11-14, 2009

SCAD theater in Savannah

Major films are shown at the Savannah College of Art and Design's (SCAD) historic Trustees' Theater. The fiberglass shark beckons moviegoers to "Sharkwater," the premiere feature from 2007.

Cannes, Sundance, Toronto –  auteurs and aficionados alike flock to these places each year to view what’s new in feature and documentary filmmaking. But you probably don’t know that every summer in Savannah, Georgia, the nearby Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) hosts its own Ocean Film Festival, a wildly popular affair that brings the ocean realm to the big screen for all to see and marvel at.

From June 11-14, 2009, several thousand residents, visitors, and filmmakers will gather in Savannah for the inaugural BLUE Ocean Film Festival. This international competition and industry gathering chose this historic port of call as its premiere venue largely due to the popularity of the Gray’s Reef NMS Ocean Film Festival, now in its fifth year.

National Marine Sanctuaries and Film Making: A Perfect Fit

George Sedberry, Superintendent of Gray’s Reef NMS, explains that the film festival was founded to increase awareness about the sanctuary and to foster local and regional ocean literacy and activism. “Film is one of the most effective ways to inform people about the many critical issues facing the oceans and coasts in our time. NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program is committed not only to conserving special places like sanctuaries, but also to helping the nation and the world confront and find solutions to these issues. So national marine sanctuaries and filmmaking are a perfect fit.”

“Our film festival grew with support from the local media, residents, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Over the past five years, it has grown from two nights to four, with greater sponsorship and community and visitor participation. When Make a Difference Media contacted us about hosting BLUE Ocean, it seemed to be the next step,” he continues.

BLUE Ocean Film Festival logo

The BLUE Ocean Film Festival is a global film festival and conservation summit for underwater filmmakers and marine researchers.

Major sponsors of BLUE include Gray’s Reef NMS, the Georgia Aquarium, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Renowned marine biologist and author Dr. Sylvia Earle is a member of the Founder’s Circle.

Summer in Savannah

If you find yourself in the Savannah area come mid-June, perhaps you’ll devote a day to exploring the city’s gorgeous gardens, squares, and buildings. Then you can top off the evening by enjoying an on-screen ocean view at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

A sultry night, the big screen, and the deep blue sea. Isn’t that what summer’s all about?