Blue Ocean Film Festival CEO Deborah Kinder had an important message Thursday for the St. Petersburg city council.
"This could be a benchmark or a hallmark event for St. Petersburg" she told FOX 13 News several hours earlier, "You get to come and see magnificent films, and also be inspired and learn a little something, and meet some truly amazing people who are the best in the world at what they do."
In its first four years the film festival outgrew its startup venue in Monterey, California. Its board of directors was looking for a new location with room to grow, but St. Petersburg was not even on the list of possibilities until its attorney from Tampa suggested it.
"When the board first came, they were very negative" the Downtown Partnership's Peter Betzer recalled. "You know, essentially saying if you think we're coming to St. Petersburg, sober up."
Within 48 hours, after visiting downtown St. Petersburg's waterfront with its art museums, state-of-the-art movie theaters, restaurants and sizable marine science presence, the board voted unanimously to leave California.
"Certainly in terms of international exposure, this blows everything else away" Betzer said, because the event attracts the "A list" of the oceanic documentary community. "Like Bob Ballard who discovered the Titanic, Jim Camaron, the person who made the movie about the Titanic, the entire Cousteau family, Prince Albert of Monaco, Sylvia Earl of the National Geographic Society."
The Global Ocean Summit aspect involves a different "A list", which could benefit the local marine science community.
"It can't help but to grow your reputation and show people the capabilities that you have scientifically in this area" said Dr. Bill Hogarth, now director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. "We're working on turning the whole waterfront into more science, and so this film festival can only help us in that endeavor."
Kinder said 20,000 people attended last year's festival in Monterey, and believes that many will take part in St. Petersburg. She was referring to the general public.
"It's about the oceans, it's about stewardship, but we want people to be entertained, we want them to have fun, and we want them to leave inspired" Kinder explained, "So we have everything for all ages."
If St. Petersburg proves to be a good venue, the Blue Ocean Film Festival will become a permanent fixture, returning in even-numbered years.
In odd numbered-years the festival will be held in the European city-state of Monaco.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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