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‘In The Wake of Giants’ wins at BLUE Ocean Film Festival


“In the Wake of Giants” by Akua Films won the BLUE Ocean Film Festival Award for the category of “National Marine Sanctuary Short.”

BLUE is a one-of-a-kind film industry and community event bringing together films, filmmakers and leaders in ocean research and conservation. More than 100 films were screened at the six-day event, and “In the Wake of Giants” received one of twenty awards given to exceptional ocean films from around the world.

Grass Valley, CA documentary filmmaker Lou Douros wrote and directed the film, narrated by Ed Lyman, whale rescue expert with NOAA Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The film follows the sanctuary’s whale rescue efforts as they work with their trained network partners to disentangle humpback whales trapped in ropes and fishing nets.

NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s rescue experts are some of the few that are experienced and authorized to free large whales of entangling gear.

Much of the footage showing the dangerous nature of the effort was filmed within arm’s reach of the distressed mammals from helmet-mounted cameras. The 40-ton mammals often drag gear for thousands of miles to Hawaii and the sanctuary where more than 10,000 humpback whales migrate every year. Entanglement is one of the primary human-caused sources of serious injury and mortality to whales and dolphins with an estimated 300,000 dying world-wide every year.

“The idea to make this film came from Mara Kerr and Mark DiOrio, the Executive Producers of In the Wake of Giants,” said Douros, who has 30 years of experience in bringing stories to life through film and video. “Mara had just finished writing her novel, Oceanus. When she met with the sanctuary’s rescue staff who use modified whaling techniques from inflatable boats to save whales, she really wanted to tell their story too.”

Diorio works with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and proceeds from the film will support the HIHWNMS whale entanglement efforts. Information may be found at:

Douros’ eldest son, Blaise, an accomplished composer for independent films and computer games, scored the film, which also was a finalist in “Original Musical Score” and “Emerging Underwater Filmmaker.”

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at

Blue Ocean Film Festival Announces Winning Films, Honors Ocean Heroes


BLUE Ocean Film Festival, presented by Monterey Bay Aquarium, announced winners of its 2010 awards for top cinematic works and ocean conservation. BLUE is a one-of-a-kind film industry and community event bringing together films, filmmakers and leaders in ocean research and conservation.

Best of Festival award went to “Bag It!” by Reel Thing, which won in the category of Ocean Issues and Conservation. The film profiles a self-proclaimed “average guy” who undertakes a global pilgrimage to explore our plastic world and understand our addiction to the ‘supposedly’ disposable items.

Two awards — Best Original Music Score and Best Theatrical film — went to Disneynature’s epic documentary “OCEANS,” narrated by Pierce Brosnan, offering a never-before-seen look at astounding creatures beneath the sea.

“In the Wake of Giants” by Akua Films won for National Marine Sanctuary Short. The film follows the whale rescue team from Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary as they risk their lives to disentangle humpbacks from life-threatening ropes and fishing nets in waters off the Hawaiian islands.

Special Jury Award was given to “Under the Sea 3D” by Howard and Michelle Hall, an underwater look at diverse coastal regions in 3D.

Other awards include:

* Sea Studios Foundation for NatGeo’s “Strange Days on Planet Earth (Broadcast). Experts and citizens race to discover the cause and solutions for our increasingly contaminated world water supply and its effects on marine life.

* BBC’s “Life: Fish” (Marine Animal Behavior), an examination of amazingly diverse aquatic vertebrates that can swim with the speed of cheetahs, fly through the air to escape predators, and engage in gender-bending adaptations when the need arises.

* Kip Evans/ Mountain and Sea Productions’ “Isla Holbox, Whale Shark Island” (Non-broadcast). Hundreds of giant whale sharks converge on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to feast on plankton. Will ecotourism threaten the very sharks that support the industry?

* “The Bering Sea: Ecosystem in Crisis” by Brent Balalas (Land-Sea Connection). This documentary deplores the overfishing that threatens one of the planet’s most productive ecosystems, and shows how the native Aleut people who depend on it are working for solutions.

* “Jean Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: America’s Underwater Treasures” by Ocean Futures Society (Ocean Exploration and Adventure); the Cousteaus explore all 13 of NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, demonstrating the need to protect and preserve these treasures.

* “The Krill is Gone” by Deep Green Films (Children’s Programming); this animated short features ocean creatures who tell us why burning fossil fuels impacts their – and our – fragile underwater ecosystems.

* “Willem and the Whales” by Kate Miller/ MMCTA (Dot Doc); A five-year old boy advocates for the cessation of whaling.

* “The Ultimate Wave Tahiti” by Perfect Wave Inc. (Ocean Sports). This film captures the beauty and culture of surfing, and the science of waves and wave-riding in an IMAX format.

* NHU Africa’s “Into the Dragon’s Lair” (Underwater Cinematography); Two men enter the fierce Nile crocodile’s inner sanctum to bring amazing underwater images of the Okavango River Delta.

* Andrew Stevenson’s “Where the Whales Sing” (Emerging Underwater Filmmaker). The amazing journey of the humpback whale en route between Atlantic feeding and breeding grounds, experienced through the eyes of a six-year old

* NRDC’s “Acid Test” (Best Short Film). This stunningly filmed documentary narrated by Sigourney Weaver focuses on ocean acidification, which threatens the entire marine food web

* ETHNOS’ “Il Mare di Joe” (Best Monterey Bay Feature). Immigrant Joe Bonanno recounts the travels of Sicilian fishermen to California and Alaska fishing grounds. The film highlights the importance of protected areas in Italy and the United States including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

– “Chasing Giants” by Chris Hanson, Chris Fedor (Student Filmmaker),
Merit Moron Pictures. Two undergrads seek insights into whaling and the meaning of environmentalism on a voyage to Norway.

* “One Ocean: Changing Seas” by Merit Moron Pictures (Marine Earth Sciences). The journey from Monterey’s kelp forest to the crystal blue of the Mediterranean to understand and track our ocean’s future.

* “Luchando Por La Vida, Una Historia Del Mar” (Spanish Language Film). Carlos Roberto Rivas speaks with the voice of the ocean to celebrate the sea turtles of El Salvador.

Three films premiered at BLUE. “SoLa” is a documentary of the dramatic environmental impacts of the Southern Louisiana coastal ecosystem. “Beneath the Blue” stars Paul Wesley, Caitlin Wachs and David Keith in a story about dolphin scientists, sonar and espionage. “Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist” features activist and filmmaker Peter Jan Brown in an intimate look at shipboard life amongst self-proclaimed animal saviors and sea rebels.


The BLUE Ocean Film Festival also featured two prestigious awards for outstanding accomplishments in environmental stewardship:

The “Making Waves Award” went to three members of the Cousteau family. Honored were Jean-Michel Cousteau, son Fabien Cousteau and daughter Celine Cousteau, with a special tribute to patriarch and pioneering ocean adventurer Jacques Yves Cousteau.

The “Making Waves Award” honors those, who, in the words of the West Point Cadet Maxim, “risk more than others think is safe, care more than others think is wise, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more that others think is possible.”

Jean-Michel Cousteau discussed and signed his recently released book, “My Father, the Captain” at BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

The “Sylvia Earle Award” for outstanding ocean advocacy went to Dr. Carl Safina for his accomplishments in the areas of conservation policy and environmental stewardship. Sylvia Earle presented the award to Safina, who also chaired the forum, “”Gulf Oil Spill: Tragedy or Turning Point?” in which he discussed the scientific, moral, economic and political aspects of the spill.

Other featured guests at the festival included Julie Packard, David Doubilet, Don Hahn, Howard Hall, Bob Talbot, Greg Stone and other film and environmental ocean leaders.

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