Do films actually matter? I spend a lot of time wringing my hands over this question, especially since I’ve committed so much of my life to making them. We all want to know that our work has meaning. A recent trip to Colombia to screen Saving Atlantis around South America’s northernmost country put this question to the test.
We filmed portions of Saving Atlantis, our documentary about the decline of the world’s coral reefs and the people fighting to save them, in Colombia in 2016. The scenes we shot there focused on a reef called Varadero, which is unusual in that it exists in cloudy water near Cartagena Bay, a place where few scientists expected to find a flourishing reef. But soon after discovering this reef, it was threatened by the dredging of a new shipping channel.
The goal of our return trip to Colombia was simple: show the film in five locations in seven days across the country, ranging from the massive capital city to tiny island villages, and to spread the word about the fate of the world’s corals and of Varadero in particular.
Could our feature documentary…a passion project pulled together by a ragtag team over the course of four years working on the fringes of our day jobs and personal lives…make an impact in a country half a world away?