Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

Blue Ocean Film Festival to draw 20,000 to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — It's not Cannes or Sundance, or even the Bollywood awards.

But city and business leaders are gearing up for a little-known film festival that is expected to draw 20,000 people to St. Petersburg in November, highlighting the city's tourism and marine science industries.

That's almost as many as the 24,000 visitors drawn to Tampa in April for the much-ballyhooed International Indian Film Academy Awards show.

About 75 people gathered Thursday to learn more about the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit at a St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce reception.

"This is a great coup for us to have Blue Ocean come here. This event shines a spotlight on our city," Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said at the gathering.

More than 160 films made in 45 countries over the past year will be screened Nov. 3-9 at four Sundial theaters, the Mahaffey Theater, the Dalí Museum and other venues.

About 300 downtown hotel rooms have been reserved for scientists, filmmakers, environmentalists, moviegoers and producers, who will have a significant economic impact on the city. Organizers predict more than half of the guests will come from outside St. Petersburg.

James Cameron's recently released Deepsea Challenge 3D will be shown the first night of the festival. His crew will discuss the exploratory mission the Academy Award winner took 7 miles to the deepest spot of the ocean.

"Maybe Mr. Cameron will show up himself," said Debbie Kinder, who started the film festival four years ago in Savannah, Ga. Since then it has taken place in Monterey, Calif., and Monaco. (Prince Albert II, who is a big donor, can't make the trip to St. Petersburg because it's too close to his wife's due date).

Executives from Disney, Netflix, National Geographic, the BBC, PBS and other content providers will be here. More than 50 filmmakers will meet with them in a "speed pitch" session in hopes of generating interest and funding for their projects.

Hundreds of students from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will be brought to see films, Kinder said.

Events will include panel discussions, a blue carpet gala, pre-parties, after-parties, an art show and possibly the biggest beach cleanup in the area's history. There will also be a 90-foot-long inflatable whale beached at Straub Park.

"We are legendary for our parties," Kinder said. "We address serious issues, but we want people to have a good time, too."

Tickets for a single film (not including nightly marquee events) will be $3 for young children, $10 for students to $12.50 for adults. The Blue Whale full festival pass with access to all movies, parties, marquee events and special screenings will cost $1,250.

City officials, the local marine science industry, Mahaffey representatives, hoteliers and others impressed the film festival's board when it held a meeting here in August 2013. St. Petersburg came out ahead of San Diego and Santa Monica, Calif., to land the event. From now on, it is slated to be held here in even years and Monaco in odd years.

A city initiative called Green for Blue will encourage local businesses, especially restaurants on Beach Drive, to use reusable bags and biodegradable food containers during the festival. Kinder and Tomalin said they hope the changes will continue after the festival.

Plastic pollution is a topic covered in some of the films, along with global warming, coral reefs, shore conservation and marine life.

Contact Katherine Snow Smith at [email protected] Follow @snowsmith.

Comments
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE ó The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
One of Ybor Cityís most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor Cityís most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA ó Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor Cityís biggest new projects in years ó a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Publix has been Floridaís favorite grocery chain for decades ó but some shoppers are turning their backs on the store after learning it donated more than half a million dollars to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. A handful of state advocacy group...
Updated: 1 hour ago
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. "For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated thatís not tr...
Published: 05/21/18
Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Netflix announced a production deal Monday with Barack and Michelle Obama that will see the former first couple create a wide range of content for the streaming service.The deal, talks for which had first been reported in March, will encompass a wide...
Published: 05/21/18
Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Published: 05/21/18

Hernando Business Digest for May 25

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL UPGRADES SURGICAL SYSTEM: Oak Hill Hospital recently acquired the latest da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which has broader capabilities than prior generations of the system. The new system is designed with the goal of furt...
Published: 05/21/18
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. Whatís more telling is what I didnít do.I didnít hose down a muddy tent, I didnít soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA ó Like his father, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/21/18