Mote Welcomes International Film Festival on Saturday



Considering one of them just paid an up-close-and-personal visit to pretty much the entire state of Florida, now seems a good time to get to know the planet’s oceans a bit better. And with the International Ocean Film Tour staging its fourth annual film festival at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium this Saturday, Sep. 16, audiences will get their own up-close look at the seven seas through two hours of short films addressing everything from environmental concerns and wave photographers to ice divers and a (nearly) modern-day Magellan looking to circumnavigate his watery world.

Hosted in Mote’s WAVE Center theater, seven films from across the world will screen this Saturday. For the sports enthusiast, the award-winning The Accord follows Icelandic surfer Heiðar Logi Elíasson as he braves the cold spray of the North Atlantic wind, while Chapter One brings audiences to the world’s kite-boarding hotspots with top boarders like Bruna Kayija and Youri Zoon, and Johanna Under the Ice chronicles the journey of ice-diver Johanna Nordblad, who found solace in the frigid waters after a mountain biking accident. Search for the perfect wave with Hawaiian photographer Clark Little, who travels the world filming breaking waves in Shorebreak, or be swept away by the amateur dreamer who took the professional sailing world by surprise in the 1973 Whitbred Round the World Yacht Race in The Weekend Sailor.

But perhaps most importantly for Mote’s mission is a pair of films focused on the environmentalist aspect. The Legacy, a five-minute short film from Mexico, explores efforts to rehabilitate the endangered manta ray population, which found solace in the protected waters of a Mexican archipelago, and how endangered species around the world can be similarly aided. Even more immediately relevant, A Plastic Ocean lays bare the devastating effects plastics are having on the world’s oceans. From floating islands of visible garbage to invisible microplastics, the effects are being felt in Sarasota’s own waters, says Shelby Isaacson, public relations manager at Mote. She recalls a storm in 2015 that washed up a group of baby turtles. Though only a few days old, plastics were found in 72% of the little critters’ bellies. This December, Mote will also host a traveling exhibit entitled Sea Debris, featuring large-scale sculptures created from plastics reclaimed from the Oregon coast.

So when the International Ocean Film Tour reached out to Mote about hosting this year’s film festival, the answer was a resounding yes. “Because it’s a collaboration of the entire ocean community, so to speak,” says Isaacson, “and it gives us an opportunity to educate and start the conversation.” But, in true Mote style, it’s a celebration of the ocean at the same time, and not just a doom-and-gloom lecture. “People may come for the kite-boarding,” she says, “but they’ll learn a little about plastics.”

With doors opening at 5pm and films starting at 6pm, light bites, beer and drinks will be available at a cash bar prior. Entrance is $5 per person.

Pictured: Still from "A Plastic Ocean." Image courtesy of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

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