Stunning Eden reefs feature in Far South Film Festival

A still from 'Through the Garden of Eden', an orange fan sponge with purple magnificent ascidian. Image supplied.
A still from 'Through the Garden of Eden', an orange fan sponge with purple magnificent ascidian. Image supplied.

Did you know the marine environment in Twofold Bay is home to underwater reefs just as beautiful, colourful and amazing as the well known Great Barrier Reef in Queensland?

A short film displaying the beauty and variety of these underwater worlds is being screened online this week as part of the Far South Film Festival 2020.

Through the Garden of Eden tells a gentle first person story where a woman is guided by two fish, through a very special reef near Eden on the south coast of NSW.

It is a unique, peaceful adventure taking time to absorb the colours, landscape and inhabitants of this strange and stunningly beautiful world.

Director of the film David Rowland felt inspired to share the beauty of the marine world with a wider audience: "You don't know what you can't see."

Now based in Batemans Bay, Mr Rowland left his work in oil and gas geoscience in 2014 to follow his passions - marine exploration, and designing and building ROVs for underwater filming.

He searched for reefs on the south coast of NSW using sonar and filmed them with prototype submarines.

Over time he learned how vulnerable these beautiful southern reefs were and the environmental challenges they faced.

A striking underwater world: a mosaic sea star, purple finger sponge and white ear fish. Image supplied.

A striking underwater world: a mosaic sea star, purple finger sponge and white ear fish. Image supplied.

UnderseaROV was founded with Ian and Kieran Holmes, who are both also passionate about the marine environment and they resolved to continue to distribute and develop underwater robots to help the marine environment, film wonderful underwater places and bring the vision to the public. This is their first film.

"We're really happy to be finalists in this national competition - it gives us an opportunity to show the film to a wider audience, we are proud to be part of it," Mr Rowland said.

"People can adventure, people who are trapped by their circumstances can still experience the beauty these reefs offer.

"This is an avenue to build public support for the beautiful places we still have - these are little patches we have left."

Filming was entirely conducted from a surface vessel over a two month period, using a remotely operated robot submarine (ROV) with a camera, and the end result is a 23 minute exploration, taken from over 100 hours of footage.

The operator of the robot submarine, watching the screen above water, often feels like they are actually underwater, and that they are personally connecting with life below - this feeling was the inspiration for this film.

"This piece draws people in and makes them feel the wonder of the underwater world... nobody can look at this and say it would be a good thing if it was wiped out," Mr Rowland said.

"I think its a great thing for Eden, they can feel proud of their natural environment."

Far South Film Festival showcases stories told by regional filmmakers from Australia and is a not-for-profit incorporated association of professional and emerging filmmakers and digital creatives living in South East regional NSW.

The 2020 festival will be screened online on Sunday, August 23, tickets are available here.

A pass for all short films, the Q&A and award livestreams is $70, or $50 for all the films.

You can also purchase tickets for collections of short films from $15 to $50, or for single short films from $5 to $30; pay-what-you can for both.

You will have 24 hours to watch the film from the time you start watching it.

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