Map to Paradise with -SBIFF World Pemiere.jpg

Ocean feature documentary, The Map to Paradise, will World Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (30 January - 9 February 2019), where Emmy Award winning Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue by Fisher Stevens and Academy Award nominated Kangaroo also premiered. 

The filmmakers said the crew feels honoured that The Map to Paradise is following in the footsteps of two globally impactful environmental films by premiering at SBIFF. 

Co-Director Danielle Ryan says she remembers meeting Sylvia Earle quite vividly, during her visit to Australia in 2014. 

“Sylvia is an icon for the sea. I admire her determination and resilience to keep campaigning to protect the sea. She’s an inspiration for every generation that follows.

Directors James Sherwood & Danielle Ryan, with Composer Daniel Clive McCallum - Curl Curl Beach, Sydney - Australia

Directors James Sherwood & Danielle Ryan, with Composer Daniel Clive McCallum - Curl Curl Beach, Sydney - Australia

“We’ve been fortunate that our work has previously been curated alongside Mission Blue in Australia. It’s really exciting that our latest project will now premiere in the same place as where this incredible film did its World Premiere.

“This is really encouraging and empowering for us as directors.”  

Close to the beginning of their film partnership, Co-Directors James Sherwood and Danielle Ryan felt extremely honoured when an excerpt from their first short ocean film, My Saltwater Sanctuary, played before the Australian premiere of Mission Blue, during the IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014.

The duo went on to win the Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Hero Award for an excerpt of another short ocean film, The Sea & Me.

Co-Director James Sherwood said to think that The Map to Paradise has now been curated alongside the best most recent environmental films, such as Sharkwater Extinction, Diving Deep, and also Anthropocene, is “our dreams come true”.

“The overall 2019 line up of films at SBIFF includes an incredible collection of environmental films,” said James. 

“To be in a program alongside Sharkwater Extinction is a very special thing. Rob Stewart’s first film, Sharkwater, was what inspired me to go down the marine science path. 

“Sadly, I’ll never get to thank him as he passed away during the making of his latest film, but I do look forward to seeing him on the big screen in Santa Barbara.”

Co-Director Danielle Ryan said it was an emotional moment for her too, when she learned that The Map to Paradise was deemed worthy of playing in the same festival as where some of her favourite films have played before. 

“It hasn’t been an easy task in making this film. This is my first feature documentary. 

“There have been a lot of uphill battles and although I am an optimist at heart, I was beginning to doubt whether we were ever going to make it over that steep hill.”

Photos from My Saltwater Sanctuary tour, including of Australian musician Ziggy Alberts playing his guitar. He features in the short film.

“Many doors seemed closed to first-time feature filmmakers like us in the documentary industry,” said Danielle.

“So when I opened an email from Michael Albright, the Programming Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival saying that ‘he felt honoured’ that we had submitted to his festival, we felt an immediate sense of relief and joy. 

“The lengthy game of entering and waiting for festival acceptances can be a gruelling and demoralising experience for any filmmaker. 

“You lament that your film is getting dusty high up on a shelf and can’t stop thinking about every decision you’ve ever made.

“Thankfully, we are one of the lucky teams of filmmakers, who finally get a chance to share their work with a large and highly distinguished crowd.

“However, its not just any large crowd,” said Danielle. 

“Santa Barbara is home to California’s Marine Protected Area Network, which also features in the film with its beautiful kelp forests and huge pods of migrating whales -thus SBIFF is the film’s target audience,” said Danielle.

SBIFF attracts around 90,000 people annually with a strong turn out from Santa Barbara’s oceanside community.

The filmmakers from the Northern Beaches of Sydney will travel to the event with American cast members, including Marine Biologist Ari Friedlaender and Ocean Conservationist Michael Sutton, and LA-based Emmy award-winning composer Daniel Clive McCallum and his wife, viola performer Virginia Rockwell, whose performance features in The Map to Paradise’s original score.

The Map to Paradise volunteer crew at a private screening for Australian ocean stakeholders.

The Map to Paradise volunteer crew at a private screening for Australian ocean stakeholders.