Unbelizeablue: An Upcoming Documentary on Women in Belize Modeling Coastal Conservation
In an insta-world of gender reveal celebrations still signaling blue for boys and pink for girls and in a political age where it often seems women’s rights are in reverse, we are in desperate need of some positive progressive news. As such, this is a story about the tiny nation of Belize leading the global scoreboard in ocean conservation. As if that wasn’t enough, it is even more impressingly a tale about how 90% of the leaders of these conservation efforts are women. Even better still, is that this is merely a story about that story, which is destined for a much bigger platform than The Placencia Breeze. Production company Eclectic Aspirations just wrapped up its third filming trip for UNBELIZEABLUE, a feature length documentary film that explores the pioneering marine conservation work led by women in Belize. If you live in Belize, you’ll know the names and faces in this film all too well; they’re the names of our sisters, our friends and local lady entrepreneurs, but in our familiarity, it is all too easy to myopically miss the forest for the trees. What started as a story about a small, third-world country charged with protecting the world’s second largest reef system, was quickly recognized by filmmakers as a story about a nation of individual women making waves that are changing global tides. Producer Phil Karp, who conceived the original theme for the documentary, aims to tell the story of how women are carrying the weight of change and provide a constructive view on what the rest of the world can do to follow Belize’s example. The award-winning crew began filming in the northern districts of Belize in March during Reef Week, which happened to coincide with International Women’s Day, and have subsequently worked their way south, interviewing a veritable who’s who of marine conservation in Belize. In their recently released production trailer, we see notable appearances from Beverly Wade, Director of Fisheries and Head of the Blue Bond Unit who cites that “Belize is one of the best global examples of functional marine protected areas”. Julie Robinson of The Nature Conservancy explains that “Belize closed on the largest debt restructure for marine conservation that the world has ever seen”. Janelle Chanona of Oceana adds that “we achieved an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil activity in Belizean waters”. An impressive set of preliminary examples for how Belize is modeling conservation to the world. “We’re excited to continue partnering with conservation leaders in Belize”, remarked Producer Nyasha Laing, the likes of which will include the force behind the reef’s UNESCO designation, Janet Gibson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Amanda Acosta of the Belize Audubon Society. There will also be appearances by Dr. Rachel Graham, founder of MarAlliance, a scientific organization that enables action for threatened marine wildlife and their critical habitats. Expect to see Lisa Carne of Fragments of Hope, a reef restoration project and Marisa Tellez, Co-Founder of the Crocodile Research Coalition. Monique Vernon, founder of Mr. Goby & Friends, who established garbage receptacles in marine shapes on beaches countrywide, will advocate alongside Jen Chapman who founded the National Lionfish Working Group. Also featured are local entrepreneurs that are downstream of these conservation organizations and that contribute to sustainability with their practices and products, such as Jolie Pollard, founder of IKOOMA seaweed hair products, and Khadija Assales, founder of Kaj Expressions that prides itself on jewelry made from Lion Fish spines and fins. UNBELIZEABLUE aims to highlight that all of these women-led organizations are approaching conservation in a multitude of ways and are making a big impact. Director Eladio Arvelo says that “UNBELIZEABLUE will be a cinematic experience that will immerse viewers into Belize’s breathtaking scenery both above and below the water.” Set to be released on PBS in the latter half of 2023 with global access via streaming channels, this is an inspirational true story that is taking place all around us. One for coastal communities and worldwide women’s movements to take note of. In Belize, blue is for girls! While filming is underway, funding is still needed. UNBELIZEABLUE is sponsored by the International Documentary Association as a 501 non-profit arts organization. To help get this story on the world stage, visit http://www.unbelizeablue.org and donate to the effort.