Newport Beach Filmfest – Eco Spotlight “This Is Your Ocean : Sharks”

On Thursday , May 28, the Newport Beach Film Festival started; the festival that brings a bit of Hollywood glamour to Orange County. Aside of the eye-catching  movies, the Filmfest offers several spotlights. 

Last Friday before the the movie “Lucky” the Eco Spotlight featured the documentary  “This is Your Ocean: Sharks”. Since we were on a family outing we decided on the Eco Spotlight, that we expected should also be attractive to our 7-year old. 

George C. Schellenger, Jim Abernethy, Shawn Heinrichs

In the perfect setting , at the Lido Theater, with ocean frescos on the walls, the world premier was introduced to a very welcoming audience. A bit skeptical about the movie when reading that director George C.  Schellenger would take us “into the world of sharks through the eyes of Wyland, Guy Harvey and Jim Abernethy“, we witnessed some beautiful images, but I must say that our first skepticism proofed to be right. The movie oftentimes appeared to be more a promotional piece for the artists, especially Wyland, than a movie that would give the audience a deeper understanding of the world of sharks and on how they lived.

The movie did draw attention to the overfishing and therefore destruction of shark communities that are so important for the ocean’s eco system and many of us are not aware of. Unfortunately that seemed to have been the only deeper topic aside of the very touching subject of Jim Abernethy’s relationship to one very particular shark “Emma”. These pictures indeed were quite unusual and impressive, since we usually picture sharks as not very affectionate animals. Shark Emma though “knows” Abernethy and feels when he is in the water and comes by to see him! 

My family, especially my little shark expert, was expecting to see and learn of some groundbreaking new facts on sharks’ lives. But there were barely any scientific details in the movie. I guess, we expected some kind of Planet Earth experience and were somewhat disturbed to be taken out of the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Bahamas only to watch Wyland paint his majestic underwater worlds on big walls. I wouldn’t have minded to see more of  shark expert Jim Abernethy’s beautiful underwater photography work, which complemented the movie much better.

All together the movie is a great attempt to draw attention solely on to sharks and their need for protection. Besides one can experience some fascinating images of underwater scenery, and … should you want to learn more about Wyland’s and Guy Harvey’s painting style and drive for painting underwater worlds, then this is definitely  a must see.

If you would like to get involved in saving our oceans, a good start is joining the movement  “One World, One Ocean“.


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