Short film by UGA ecology student to screen at Savannah film festival

Athens, Ga. – A short film by Virginia Schutte, a doctoral student in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, has been accepted into the Beneath the Waves Film Festival. The 2013 festival kicks off March 20-24 in Savannah and features documentaries from around the world that highlight marine science and related issues.

Schutte’s short film, “Improving Mangrove Management to Protect the Ocean’s Tropical Nurseries,” explores the critical role of red mangrove forests in marine ecosystems of the Caribbean. Mangrove forests are found throughout the tropics and serve as important habitat for both terrestrial and marine animals, but they are being lost at alarming rates comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. Her research focuses on the underwater root systems of these forests, providing information that could inform efforts to protect, manage and restore them.

“I got into this career because I wanted to save the world,” Schutte said. “Scientists and policymakers can only do so much without public support, and scientific publications just don’t reach the same audience as alternative media, like videos.”

 Schutte’s film also was a finalist in the National Science Foundation’s Creating the Future video contest.

“The Odum School began an environmental film festival, EcoFocus, which will occur next week in Athens,” said John Gittleman, dean of the Odum School of Ecology. “It’s fabulous that Virginia’s film will be shown in parallel at the same time in Savannah. Communicating ecological work in many forms, including film, is key to understanding and solving ecological problems. Virginia’s work is on the forefront not only of presenting new ecological ideas to the public but also communicating new research to scientists.”
Beneath the Waves, now in its fourth year, was established by a team of marine ecologists and graduate students to promote awareness and education about marine issues while encouraging researchers to engage diverse audiences through the medium of film. The festival’s flagship event is held in conjunction with the annual Benthic Ecology meeting, one of the largest marine science conferences in the U.S., with mini-festivals scheduled across the U.S. and internationally throughout the following year.

For more information about the UGA Odum School of Ecology, see www.ecology.uga.edu. For more information about the Beneath the Waves Film Festival, see http://www.beneaththewavesfilmfest.org/.

Schutte’s short film is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wCP9FsMq6o.