Earlier this week A Sea Change won the Best World Documentary Audience Award at the Sedona International Film Festival. Ever since the FICA Film Festival in Brazil in June of 2009 our documentary has won numerous prizes, but I am sure that this one is particularly meaningful for Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby; we are all very happy.
I know when Barbara was planning the documentary and choosing a narrative line, a point of view and a voice for the film, one of her greatest concerns was how to present such a challenging and unknown scientific subject in a fashion that was both entertaining and informative for all audiences. Understanding acidity and navigating through figures, parts per million and historical levels of CO2 is not too, let’s say, sexy. Just the term “ocean acidification” is a cacophony, a mouthful. When we were shooting in Seattle in 2008 there was talk among us and among some scientists about coining a new term, something that was as easy to understand and utter as “global warming”.
In December each copy of the new magazine Oceanography included a DVD of A Sea Change. Ellen S. Kappelwas wrote an editorial titled “Making Could Into Something We Can Sell” in which she talked about the difficulties scientists face when communicating with the public and how “cautious scientific language can have the unintended consequence of leaving our neighbors uncertain as to what they should care about or whether anything needs to be done immediately”. We live in a world that likes to judge and label, that craves adjectives and adverbs, a world of opinions, and scientists operate in the cautious descriptive world of substantives and prepositions, of letting facts and data speak for themselves and of never showing absolute certainty, because at almost all times certainty is just a notion.
It is hard to please both worlds, but since deep appreciation only comes from understanding, it would be nice to think that Barbara was able to deliver the facts and figures while keeping things understandable, empathic and hopeful and that that is what the audience award is about.
2009 FICA Film Festival in Brazil