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FLIFF Film In Focus: BENEATH THE BLUE

 

Florida has more coastline than it does land mass, so it makes sense that Floridian film audiences love films that accentuate the seas and the creatures that inhabit it. They also have a sense of urgency about the threats to their tropical paradise (as evidenced by the recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster), so a film like BENEATH THE BLUE appeals to audiences a the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival not only for its underwater photography, its natural beauty but its strong ecological message.

The film is the work of director and producer Michael D. Sellers, who began producing films in 1991 and eventually turned his hat to direction in 2002 with VLAD, starring Billy Zane and Brad Dourif. His second film, EYE OF THE DOLPHIN became an international success for its dynamic underwater sequences and its ecological awareness. The follow up, a kind of sequel, is also shot in the Bahama Islands, a paradise of wind, water and sand that is the home to one of the world's biggest communities of dolphins and other amphibious mammals.

"The film is intended to be enjoyed as an evnironmentally themed adventure story that is inspired by actual events and real scientific issues", Sellers stated in the Festival's catalogue. "There is an on-going conflict between environmentalists and the US Navy over sonar testing that kills whales and dolphins. The film looks at this controversial issue, as well as exploring the potential of human-dolphin communication."

Set in the crystal blue waters of the Bahama Islands, the film tells the story of a famed scientist (played by David Keith, who was present for the screening) who is developing a language that allows humans to communicate with dolphins. At his research center, the star attraction is Rasca, a wild dolphin who is able to communicate with the humans through a learned series of whistles. Onto the scene comes two unassuming tourists, who are secretly members of the US Navy, who infliltrate the compound and find a way to steal Rasca for profit.

The film enunciates its clear environmental message while also acknowledging that in the defense  of the state, there are casaulties, between human and animal. However, the highlights of the film come from the thrilling underwater sequences shot by crack cinematographer Wendell Morris, who produced an effusive and encompassing environment for those of us who do not own scuba gear. The film also features a fine performance from Paul Wesley, an up-and-coming television actor who plays the naval officer who becomes enlightened by his exposure to the dolphins and the earnestness of the scientist and his daughter. For more information on the film, visit: http://beneaththeblue.quantumreleasing.com/

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor

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About Festival Circuit

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.


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