By BLUE Ocean Film Festival

The BLUE Ocean Film Festival (BLUE) splashed onto the ocean scene in 2009 with a progressive three-tiered event that included an international ocean film competition, a filmmaker and photographer’s industry conference, and a science-based ocean conservation summit. This multi-disciplined approach propelled the innovative festival to become recognized as an important platform for addressing ocean issues as well as a “not to be missed” networking event.

Attracting ocean icons, celebrities, seasoned filmmakers and photographers, renowned scientists, media industry leaders, and emerging talent, BLUE has created an ecosystem of intellectuals, artists, and innovators with a mission to use the power of visual media to engage, educate, and inspire people everywhere to help save the ocean.

BLUE’s Co-Founder and CEO, Debbie Kinder, discusses the vision behind creating the multi-disciplined event, “I knew I wanted to be involved in ocean conservation, but there are so many issues, I didn’t want to choose just one problem to devote my time to because they’re all so interconnected. So, through film and visual media we can address all the major issues. Visual media is the most powerful tool we have for raising awareness and inspiring action. It’s how we can reach a global audience in a short span of time and in a way that helps everyone to understand some very complicated issues. The health of the ocean is not only about protecting marine life but also a much bigger issue. The health of the ocean impacts the health of humanity, not in the future, but right now. If this critical piece of our life support becomes tainted, it’s not something that can be fixed through crisis management.”

A major expansion of BLUE was recently announced with significant strides in its international reach as the result of new strategic partnerships with the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. The festival will now be an annual event that alternates between the US and Monaco, starting with the next festival in 2014 slated for November 3-9 in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2015, the festival will jump across the pond to Monaco, bringing its unique convergence of arts, science, and ocean conservation to the principality. During the official announcement of the partnerships, HSH Prince Albert II emphasized both the need to increase environmental consciousness and the important role BLUE plays in bringing ocean conservation to the forefront. “This event uses the power of film, photography, entertainment, and science to educate, empower, and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe,” he said. “To awaken consciousness toward environmental protection more effectively, our best weapons are those that win over our hearts and minds.”

This expansion is not the first time BLUE has had a presence internationally. By leveraging the festival’s film archive library, the organization has developed an internationally touring educational outreach program, BLUE On Tour. This traveling program provides hosts the opportunity to present events that feature a customized film program and the ability to include filmmakers, scientists, and conservation groups.

“BLUE On Tour enables other groups to host their own customized festival event that address specific issues most relevant to their area,” said Charlie Kinder, co-founder of BLUE. “Unfortunately most people know very little about our ocean or why they should be concerned about its health. We are thrilled with how effective this outreach has been.” To date BLUE On Tour has been presented in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, China, and throughout the US.

If you would like to be a part of BLUE’s next festival and experience the impressive mix of ocean all-stars, thought-provoking programming, and amazing networking opportunities, mark your calendar for November 3-9, 2014 and plan to spend a few days in the charming coastal community of Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, FL.

Ocean icon, Dr. Sylvia Earle describes the festival as “…more than a celebration of all things wet, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival brings together a potent mix of filmmakers, scientists, artists, conservationists, decision makers, industry leaders, educators, curious kids, and more. Come to be entertained, inspired, informed, and in the company of kindred spirits. Come make useful contacts and come to have a good time. Whatever strums your blue heartstrings, just don’t miss this event.”

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