There’s nothing more inspiring than cinematic ocean voyages. The International Ocean Film Festival at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium on September 10 will be no exception. The festival has been on hiatus since 2019, with filmmakers using the pandemic to prepare more entries than ever before. This year’s festival is a one-session viewing of several short films and a spectacular feature film, soul of the oceanwith morning or evening sessions.
“Thank goodness for filmmakers who have dedicated their lives to filming underwater life that most people will never see,” said Ana Blanco, the film festival’s executive director.
The film lineup spans the globe, taking viewers on a journey from Polynesia to the Mediterranean through a variety of cinematic styles, including documentaries and animated shorts. There’s even a mockumentary about a plastic bag’s journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Veronica Perrelli, Mote Events Coordinator, says that compared to previous years, “this year’s films have a greater focus on ocean conservation” with “positive messages that will engage and empower audiences.”
For Back to the sea filmmaker Jack Gordon, the festival offers guests the opportunity to discover surprising stories from those making waves in ocean conservation. “You don’t have to make a big gesture,” he said. “Even one person or a small group deciding to think things differently can have an impact.”
While Sarasotans are no strangers to life by the sea, Mote communications coordinator Sean Stover hopes the festival will open their eyes to how the world’s various ecosystems are connected. “The impacts here relate to the rest of the world, and it’s not just about protecting Sarasota Bay, but protecting the ocean in general,” she explains.
Of course, Sarasota is a great place to host the festival. “You can walk out of the WAVE Center and the water is right there,” Stover points out. “It adds an extra level of power to the movies.” Mote encourages anyone interested in learning more about ocean conservation to attend, especially families with young children and adults interested in ocean conservation.
And in the form of a true film festival, guests can expect to get the star treatment as they walk the red carpet, pose for photo ops and enjoy snacks and wine or beer at the Deep Sea Diner.
Tickets are $8 for Mote members and $12 for non-members, and guests can choose to attend the matinee from 3-5:30 p.m. or the evening show from 7-9:30 p.m. festival will take place at the WAVE Center at Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.