Underwater Film Festival brings the deep to life

A major event in the worldwide dive calendar is the announcement of the entrants into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.

These are people who have been instrumental in the pushing forward of the sport, environmental issues and the marine environment over the years, be it through technology, film-making, photography or all of the above.

Several of the inductees at the hall of fame event – which takes place on Tuesday, 8th November – also are central to the ever-popular International Underwater Film Festival and Silent Auction, which runs from 6.30pm onward at the Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa Governor’s Ballroom on Monday, 7 November.

It all kicks off with cocktails and the silent auction, proceeds of which support the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s marine conservation efforts such as Dive 365, underwater and coastal clean-ups, lionfish culling materials, sinking and maintenance of the Kittiwake, government liaising to request changes to marine laws in order to support the marine environment and the CITA office and staff to provide/support these efforts.

After that, there will be the presentation of four videos by inductees Howard and Michelle Hall, André Laban and Allan Power plus a feature presentation on the sinking of the Kittiwake.

André Laban

World-renowned French diver, photographer, author and painter André Laban, was a pioneering member of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s Calypso team, serving as chief engineer and diver. He developed early underwater cameras that were used in shooting ‘The Silent World’, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1956.

He shot several films in the Cousteau Odyssey series and co-directed three. His distinctive bald head can be seen in several Cousteau films.

From 1956-1966, he was Director of the French Office Underwater Search. From 1966, he began to paint his underwater images, which are internationally acclaimed and collected worldwide.

In 1996 he won the Palme d’Or at the World Festival Underwater Images in Antibes for his film, ‘Iris and Oniris’. A collection of the photographs he produced from 1973 to 1983 has been published as ‘One Bald Man,’ released in 2007. He will be presenting ‘Iris and Oniris’ at the festival.

Allan Power

Allan Power’s inclusion in the 2011 International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame recognises his over 40 years spent diving the wreck of the President Coolidge and making it into one of the best known and safest dive sites around the oceans of Vanuatu.

Over 40 years ago, he visited Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu on a salvage expedition and remained to become ‘caretaker’ of the President Coolidge, a 200 m long luxury passenger liner that sank in 1942 after hitting a mine as it was about to enter the Segond Canal.

The President Coolidge has been declared a Marine Reserve and is renowned throughout the world as one of the most accessible wrecks that divers can explore. Allan Power has done over 15,000 dives on the wreck and has taken over 20,000 divers to visit the Lady Godiva panel alone, a decorative part of the wreck’s salon décor. His film at the festival is The Wreck of the President Coolidge.

Underwater filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall are hailed for their marine cinematography contribution to over 100 films. Howard has received six cinematography Emmys for films produced for television and Michele has received one Emmy award.

Howard and Michele Hall

Howard and Michele Hall have authored several books about diving, underwater photography, and marine wildlife. Howard has authored and illustrated three children’s books – ‘The Kelp Forest’, ‘Sharks’ and ‘A Charm of Dolphins’. Michele has authored two –‘The Shark Project’ and ‘All About Sharks’. She has also published several books of photographs of marine life and directed numerous films for PBS and National Geographic.

The couple has also created two critically acclaimed IMAX Productions – ‘Into the Deep’ (3D) and ‘Islands of the Sharks’. They also appear in a third one, ‘Coral Reef Adventure’, which was directed by Howard, with Michele as the location manager. Released in 2003, the film continues to be played in IMAX theatres around the world.

Also being inducted is Clement Lee, recognised as a leader in the development of diving in Southeast Asia. With extensive diving experience in Sabah (Malaysia) waters, Clement Lee became a dive master in 1985 and later that same year, a PADI Instructor. In August 1991 he became the first PADI Course Director in Malaysia. As Managing Director and a founding partner of Borneo Divers and Sea Sports, in 1989 he was among the first to build a dive resort on the famous Sipadan Island.

He has received numerous awards for his achievements and contributions to the diving industry. These include the PIRA Excellence in Dive Resort Operations Award, for Significant Leadership and Innovation in the Dive Resort Community (1994); PADI Outstanding Achievement Award, for 12 Years of Excellence in Dive Retailing & Dive Travel (1996) and a Malaysia Tourism Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Tourism Industry (2000).

Bev Morgan

Bev Morgan’s ideas and inventions have had a huge impact on commercial and sport diving for nearly half a century.

He began free diving and surfing in 1949, a year after leaving high school and became a Los Angeles County lifeguard in1952. That year, he purchased an early Aqua Lung scuba unit and founded the Los Angeles County Instructors programme, which was the first scuba instructor’s programme available to the public. He wrote the first instruction manual, which was based on the Scripps Institute programme and also authored ‘Underwater Safety’, a standard diving book of the 1950s.

Bev also began manufacturing wetsuits and developed what would become the Body Glove. As an early diving writer and photographer, his work appeared in Skin Diver magazine. He also dove commercially for abalone and in the oilfields.

In 1966, in association with Bob Kirby, a former Navy diver, he began The Kirby Morgan Corporation, a company that would change the face of commercial diving forever with its development of lightweight, comfortable, professional diving gear. It also produced the diving equipment for the movie, ‘Sphere’.

Today, the company is the world standard for surface supplied diving helmets and its products are employed in every ocean in the world. Kirby Morgan is a name that has become synonymous with outstanding diving equipment and remains the company through which Bev Morgan continues to serve the diving industry.

Tickets are on sale at www.caymanboxoffice.com plus the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Office, the Department of Tourism, Cathy Church Photo Centre, Divetech, Red Sail Office and Lobster Pot Dive Centre.

Tickets for both the Film Festival and the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame induction ceremony may be purchased at combined package rate of $65 only at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the Department of Tourism

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