For Immediate Release
San Diego Natural History Museum's Giant-screen Film, Ocean Oasis, to Premiere at Smithsonian
San Diego Natural History Museum, PRONATURA, and Summerhays Films Collaborate
San Diego, CAThe San Diego Natural History Museum's giant-screen film on Baja California, Ocean Oasis, featuring the Baja California peninsula and the Sea of Cortés, one of the world's richest and most beautiful ecosystems, will make its world premiere September 12 at a gala event at the Johnson IMAX® Theater in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. It will open to the public on September 13, continuing through March 2001. Also scheduled for showing at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Ocean Oasis will premiere in Mexico and California in the near future.
Ocean Oasis will show daily at the San Diego Natural History Museum beginning April 2001 when the Museum opens its new 90,000 sq. ft. addition with a 300-seat giant-screen theater. In the next five years, 15 million viewers are expected to see the film in over 100 giant-screen theaters worldwide. Proceeds from Ocean Oasis will support conservation, education, and research in the Baja California peninsula and the Sea of Cortés.
Summerhays Films of San Diego County produced the $5 million, 38-minute film in collaboration with the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Mexican conservation organization, PRONATURA. The film has been endorsed by international conservation organizations: Conservation International, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, The Nature Conservancy, and IBOY (International Biodiversity Observation Year, an initiative of DIVERSITAS 2001-2002).
"Ocean Oasis is an important introduction to the extraordinary natural beauty and ecological significance of Baja California, and strongly complements the educational mandate of the Smithsonian," said Robert Fri, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "In addition, the binational cooperation that led to this film's creation is an excellent model for future joint stewardship of the region."
"We are proud to premiere Ocean Oasis at the Smithsonian," said Michael Hager, executive producer of the film and director of the San Diego Natural History Museum. "This film is one of many important results from our long-standing research work in Baja California and the Sea of Cortés." In the past decade alone, Museum researchers have discovered more than 15 new species in this uniquely abundant region.
The Baja California peninsula stretches 800 miles from southern-most California (in the U.S.) into and along Mexico's Pacific coast. Little more than 100 miles at its widest point, this region's variety of habitatsocean to coast to mountains, desert, and gulfhas given rise to an exceptional diversity and density of animals and plants. This richness, reflected by more than 900 species of fish and marine mammals, makes the Sea of Cortés one of the most significant ecosystems in the world.
Ocean Oasis explores the nutrient-rich cool waters inhabited by gray whales, manta rays, moray eels, sharks, and brilliantly colored corals; coastal communities of enormous elephants seals, and gulls and terns by the tens of thousands; desert conditions so dry that some animals have developed adaptations that allow them to survive without ever drinking water; and snow-covered mountains that soar nearly two miles into the sky. An extensive website of background information on Ocean Oasis can be found at www.oceanoasis.org.
Exequiel Ezcurra, associate producer and chairman of the film's scientific advisory committee and deputy director of research and collections at the San Diego Natural History Museum, guides the viewer through the region's undersea natural riches both on land and beneath the sea, with additional narration from Iliana Ortega Bacmeister, a biologist and the on-camera guide in the underwater sequences. Ezcurra led a 10-member, binational scientific advisory committee that helped to ensure a strong scientific basis for the film and its components.
"People who know Baja California have a strong emotional bond with the region," said Soames Summerhays, the film's director and president of the production company Summerhays Films, Inc. "One of the chief goals of the film is to foster an affinity with the region by a wider audience. The giant-screen format is ideal for audiences to experience the awe and wonder that one feels traveling through Baja California." Public awareness of the need to preserve the region is a parallel goal. Though geographically contiguous with the most populous state in the United States, Baja California and its fascinating habitats are little known.
The San Diego Natural History Museum, founded in 1874, is dedicated to increasing knowledge and understanding of the Southern California and Baja California region through research, education and exhibits. For information, call (619) 232-3821 ext. 244 or visit the Museum's website at www.sdnhm.org.
Summerhays Films, Inc, a San Diego-based film production company, is an award-winning world leader in the production of large-format special exhibit motion picture films for IMAX® museum theaters, expositions, destination theaters, corporations, and theme parks worldwide. Founded by scientist, naturalist, and conservationist-turned-film-producer Soames Summerhays, Summerhays Films has produced in all the major large formats such as 15/70, IMAX®, IMAX® Dome, 8/70, and 5/70. Key members of the filmmaking team include director of underwater photography Bob Cranston of San Diego and director of land photography James Neihouse of Florida, both recognized by the industry as leaders in their areas of specialty.
PRONATURA A.C. is Mexico's oldest and largest nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources throughout the country. For more information about PRONATURA's work in Baja California, contact Louisa Mendoza Deltaville, Coordinator Administrative PPBC, at (61) 77 30 60, or visit the organization's website at www.pronatura.org.mx.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Transparancies and CD sound tracks available. Call the San Diego Natural History Museum for Delle Willett (619) 232-3821 ext. 244 or Anna Mercaldi (619) 232-3821 ext. 220.
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