Apr 17, 2020
Revealing the hidden, mysterious world of coral reefs, a new interactive film is pushing the boundaries of what defines a nature documentary. Through the lens of one of the world’s leading coral biologists, Dr. Ruth Gates, “Lost Cities” is an experiential dive into the current state of the ancient and unique marine invertebrates.
The user-driven interface is a finalist in the New Vision category at the now-virtual International Wildlife Film Festival starting on Saturday and is the brainchild of Gates and directors Marita Davison and Jennifer Moslemi.
“We started talking about the possibility of interactive technology as a way to meet people where they are in a different way than a traditional documentary can,” Moslemi said. She and Davison had been working on a television program with Gates, who was interested in new ways to tell the story of coral.
“The ‘Lost Cities’ website is something I’ve never seen,” said Carrie Richer, IWFF artistic director. “It’s so accessible and it’s such a different way of telling stories right now.”
The episodes, or “bites,” are meant to be viewed in any order, allowing for more flexibility in learning. Each episode includes additional items you can click on to learn more about a specific topic or question.
“We tried to cover the bases for the different viewer preferences,” she said.
They hope the interactive film can be used by teachers and educators to encourage families at home to get excited about the science of corals.
“This was one thing Ruth really wanted to do and we’re really hoping we can still do that, is get it into places and spaces where people are where they might be interested in picking it up and playing with it a little bit,” Moslemi said.
The film is narrated by Gates and focuses on her research, now an homage to a pillar in the marine biology community who is no longer with us. The coral expert passed away in October 2018, while “Lost Cities” was still in production.
Gates was able to see the first draft of “Lost Cities” before she passed away and Moslemi said she was pleased with the way it was headed. Now they hope they can carry her legacy on by spreading the film far and wide, reaching people outside the world of science.