I wrote a previous article announcing the very exciting and anticipated arrival of a new documentary; called Chasing Coral that is finally documenting the trouble coral reefs are facing out in the ocean today. It is pretty clear that global warming and human existence in general are literally destroying some of the world’s most incredible natural structures, including coral reefs.  As I addressed in the previous article, the documentary was produced by Exposure Labs who also made the innovative Chasing Ice documentary. The film maker’s goal, Jeff Orlowski, was to make the predicament coral reef systems are facing out in the ocean, easily accessible for the average Joe around the world.

As announced previously, the film made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the festival’s new climate program.  It addresses the big, bad issue of coral bleaching as well as the numerous other problems coral reefs face besides warming waters. The film follows to activists through different coral hot spots around the world. One activist, Richard Vevers is a former advertising executive from London who changed his life mission to making the devastation of coral a public issue. The other activist, Zackery Rago, is a self-proclaimed “coral nerd” and tech geek. To check out the full article click here.


Chasing Coral in Reviews

It is not surprising that the film was received well by environmentally conscious folks around the world. If winning the Audience Award (in the documentary category) at Sundance this year wasn’t enough, it has also received many rave reviews from the critics themselves. Variety says in a review, “Director Jeff Orlowski has made a disturbing, and moving, film about how the world’s coral reefs are being rapidly wiped out.”

Chasing coral does a phenomenal job of pairing a beautiful picture of colorful, healthy corals with the perils of coral graveyards. It offers up not only accurate, important information, but extremely relevant facts and figures that are dramatic and alarming to the viewer. An example: 50 percent of the world’s coral has died off in the last 30 years. That only leads you to wonder what will happen in the next 30 years. I don’t know about you, but that does not paint a pretty picture in my head.

Steve Greene of indiewire.com calls the film, “[A] gorgeous underwater exploration [that] is ‘the war room’ for environmental advocacy docs.” He goes on to add the film does an excellent job of keeping the film dramatic and enthralling to the viewed without losing the point of the larger issues at hand. It does a great job of showing how the drama of coral bleaching events and dying corals are intertwined with the bigger political issues at hand.

Other miscellaneous comments from critics include:

An “emotional race against time”– The New York Times

“A triumph of both visual and narrative storytelling.”–  The Economist

“[a] powerful wake-up call”– Hollywood Reporter

“Chasing Coral is a landmark film for activism.”– rogerebert.com


The Importance of coral

Coral is the foundation for many ocean ecosystems. Why we generally think of coral living in tropical, shallow waters there are many deep sea coral systems that we still understand little to nothing about. Coral provides shelter and resources for countless species ranging from phytoplankton to sharks. It is very easy for mankind to get wrapped up in charismatic and “likeable” species like sea turtles or dolphins (both of which are no less important I might add!) but without healthy coral reef ecosystems, the ocean could see a major collapse in productivity and diversity.

Take Action

There is not an exact release date for the film yet but we do know it is very important to the film makers to make it available for the wider public. That is why it is incredibly exciting that it has been announced the film was picked up by Netflix. (Keep checking your Netflix account for its arrival!) Here are some quotes from Netflix and the film’s team about the excitement of being picked up by Netflix:

“Chasing Coral is a stunning cinematic achievement,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of Original Documentaries. “Jeff has captured a beautiful view under the ocean seldom seen, giving viewers a first-hand tour through a dynamic and urgent issue. We are proud to have the film join our growing roster of films and series that aim to speak to a wide global audience and engage people simultaneously across borders.”

“It took a village to make this film,” Larissa Rhodes, co-producer of the film, said. “We shot over three years, spent 650+ hours underwater including footage from over 30 countries with the support of hundreds of people around the world. We’re thrilled that with Netflix, we’ll be able to bring this story about corals to the surface.”

Director Jeff Orlowski said, “This project has been a labor of love for so many years. We wanted to make sure that our film found the right home, especially given the global scale of this story. In partnering with Netflix, we’re excited about working together to make a huge impact around the world.”

The Chasing Coral team is launching an ambitious impact campaign later this year. Using the hashtag #makewaves you can help by clicking here.


References and photos courtesy of: