Jean-Michel Cousteau frolics with hammerhead shark — Photo courtesy of 3 D Entertainment Films
Exciting underwater creatures and secrets of the ocean will be the topic of the 13th annual Gray's Reef Ocean Film Festival in Savannah, January 29 and 30.
Festival films explore the complexity of the marine ecosystem, including the creatures and beauty of the sea as well as our maritime heritage. The event will also highlight Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, whose mission is to "identify, protect, conserve and enhance the natural and cultural resources, values and qualities of the sanctuary for current and future generations."
Around 24 films will be featured in two of the city's historic venues: Lucas Theatre for the Arts and Trustees Theatre.
On January 29, the Festival kicks off with a "3D Ocean Exploration Evening," featuring the film, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D and Humpback Whales 3D, followed by a Q&A with Humpback Whale rescuer Ed Lyman.
A children's session is set for January 30, featuring Journey to the South Pacific, created by ocean conservationist and filmmaker Greg MacGillivray. Also featured will be Guy Harvey films, a military appreciation event and an emerging filmmaker competition.
After the screenings, Gray’s Reef and some local businesses will host a hot dog reception in historic Reynolds Square, next door to the theater.
The military appreciation event on Saturday will be showing Resurface, a 20-minute documentary about military veterans who surf as a way of learning to cope with PTSD and transform their lives. Also showing is The Current, about individuals with disabilities enjoying the freedom of diving and surfing as adaptive sports. The 40-minute film is narrated by Fabien Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau's grandson).
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary – one of 14 marine protected areas – spans 22 square miles, comprising one of the largest "live-bottom" reefs near the shore of the southeastern US.
Located 16 miles east of Sapelo Island between Savannah and Brunswick, the reef was designated a national sanctuary in 1981, yet access to it requires extensive deep-sea diving experience.
The films will enable novice divers and landlubbers alike to view what lies beneath the surface of these waters and, in the words of MacGillivray, "We hope this experience will allow people to get to know whales and better understand them. The more people fall for whales, the more strongly they will feel about protecting them – and their habitat.”
A suggested donation is requested to benefit Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: $10 per day; $5 for students, military and children.
For more information, call (912)598-2397 or visit the website.