What is at issue:
UNBELIZEABLUE is an original documentary film project that will tell the story of an inspiring group of women from various walks of life who are leading efforts to protect Belize’s marine environment and associated livelihoods. Belize is home to one of the planet’s most spectacular marine environments: the world’s second largest coral reef ecosystem. That system includes the world famous Great Blue Hole, first popularized by Jacques Cousteau; three unique coral atolls; and numerous other pristine reefs. Economically, this natural heritage is critically important to Belizeans, most of whom owe their livelihoods to the reef in some way, either through fishing or tourism.
Like other coastal countries, Belize’s economy relies heavily on its marine resources. In fact, fishing and marine-based tourism sustain the livelihoods of more than 50% of the country’s citizens. Consequently, the equitable use of marine resources is of critical importance to Belizeans, who wish their natural capital to be conserved and reinvested in a sustainable way.
But how can communities thrive while coexisting with their natural environment? Where do we draw the line between property development and environmental protection? How does a country choose between mass cruise ship tourism and eco-friendly overnight tourism? Who signs-off on the tradeoff between offshore oil exploitation versus a potential natural disaster due to oil spills along pristine reefs? These are some of the critical questions and challenges that will be explored in the film.
With regards to the film’s characters, Belize has the unique distinction that virtually all its local and international NGOs are led by women, as are key government departments associated with the protection of marine resources. This appears to be a multigenerational phenomenon where a group of women pioneers opened the door for the next generation of female conservation leaders, who are in turn boosting a newer generation to begin making their voices heard. Showcasing these women leaders and their stories will be the main plotline of UNBELIZEABLUE.
What's happening now:
UNBELIZEABLUE is in the final stages of pre-production. All of the major characters have signed on to the film and have been the subjects of pre-interviews via zoom. The filmmakers have made three trips to Belize to meet with the characters, further develop the storyline and identify filming locations.
Covid permitting, the first filming trip will take place in March 2022 to coincide with Reef Week, a major event in Belize that celebrates the barrier reef system and its contributions to Belize’s economy and culture. Additional filming trips will be scheduled later in 2022, with release of the film expected during the second half of 2023. The film itself as well as several impact campaigns will be used to raise awareness about the importance of coral reefs to local and global biodiversity as well as to livelihoods of coastal communities.