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Chch filmmaker wins supreme award at Environmental Film Fest

Christchurch filmmaker Peter Young wins supreme award at Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival with his appeal to protect the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Christchurch filmmaker Peter Young’s feature documentary The Last Ocean won Best Film and Best New Zealand Film at the 2013 Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival’s ‘green carpet’ gala Opening & Awards Ceremony at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North tonight. The 87-minute documentary opened the festival, screening after the presentations. 

“The Reel Earth Awards recognise and acknowledge the best of the festival each year. Each award had a different jury, and the fact that The Last Ocean positioned so strongly across several categories is a tribute to the quality of the research and film making,” said festival director, Victoria Jakobs.

Six years in the making, the documentary lifts the lid on commercial fishing in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, widely regarded as the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth. Since 1996 an international fishery, initiated by New Zealand, has been targeting Antarctic toothfish, which is sold as Chilean sea bass in restaurants around the world. The fishery intends to reduce the adult population by 50% over 35 years, which will inevitably destroy the natural balance of the Ross Sea ecosystem.

“This is a story about protecting very special places, and the Ross Sea is certainly that. As the last intact ocean ecosystem on Earth, there is far more value in protecting it than exploiting it. This award is a great honour and tribute to those who have worked on this film and for this cause,” said Young, one of New Zealand’s leading wildlife cameramen and a key figure in the campaign to protect the Ross Sea.

The award comes at an important stage in the negotiations to protect the Ross Sea. In July the body that governs the waters around Antarctica, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), will be meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany to discuss a joint proposal submitted by United States and New Zealand for the establishment of a large marine protected area in the Ross Sea.  Speaking at a private screening of the The Last Ocean in Washington DC last month, US Secretary of State, John Kerry said he hoped that the film would inspire people to be responsible stewards of "this fragile planet".

Young says that while the proposal put forward by New Zealand and the United States is a good first step, it still allows for commercial fishing, and that the Ross Sea deserves stronger protection.  “There is only one right thing to do in the Ross Sea and that is to fully protect it,” said Young. “We no longer take kiwi from the forests of New Zealand, or buffalo from the great plains of America, because of the value they bring to our lives. For the same reason we should not be taking fish from the Ross Sea.” 

Last week, The Last Ocean was released worldwide on iTunes in 24 countries and 7 languages. The release is part of a big push in the face of the decisive international commission meeting this July.

Young is currently touring the United States to promote the film and the issue of commercial fishing in the Ross Sea. He is calling for American consumers, restaurateurs and supermarkets to refrain from sourcing any Antarctic toothfish. After the film screened in New York, Whole Food Markets publicly stated its position on the Ross Sea fishery, saying “we do not currently, nor do we plan to in the future, source Chilean sea bass from the controversial Ross Sea area near Antarctica.”

The Last Ocean recently won ‘Best Call 2 Action Film’ at the Boulder International Film Festival and received a Royal Reel Award at the 2013 Canada International Film Festival and a Moving Mountains Award at 2013 Mountainfilm in Telluride. The film is supported by NZ on Air, the New Zealand Film Commission, Antarctic Ocean Alliance, Biotherm, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Park Road Post, Global Ocean, and Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.

Last Ocean Charitable Trust is a member of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, which is made up of influential environmental organizations including Pew Environmental Group, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, WWF and Greenpeace.

The Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival presents The Last Ocean:
Friday 21st June at 8pm at the Globe Theatre, 312 Main Street, Palmerston North, NZ
Film screening supported by Forest & Bird Manawatu.

About Reel Earth
Reel Earth is a leading environmental film festival in the Southern Hemisphere and offers film screenings, environmental forums, outdoor theatres and a student film competition. Reel Earth seeks to encourage excellence in environmental filmmaking around the world.
Visit the Reel Earth website here:
See the festival programme here:

About The Last Ocean
View the promo here:
Visit the film website:
Visit the trust website:
Learn about the Last Ocean Road trip here


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