Reef Renaissance Film Festival

Reef Renaissance Film Festival - Introduction



Reef Renaissance Film Festival® is held annually, on or about 8 June, in celebration and promotion of World Oceans Day. The event features works by internationally recognized, established professionals as a means of inspiring and encouraging excellence in emerging filmmakers and students. In addition, it will showcase the work of professional and budding creators in a juried competition. Select, winning entries will be featured on the Main Screen in the evening Film Festival.

Admission is free.

KEY DATES (2017) 

Deadline for Submissions: 15 May 2017

Category Finalists Announced: 20 May 2017

Official Selections Notified by: 30 May 2017

Reef Renaissance Film Festival: 10 June 2017


The Competition - Awards in Five Categories

We are proud and delighted to announce the winners of the competition component of the Fifth Annual Reef Renaissance Film Festival!


1st Place Documentary: "Beneath the Bridge" Changing Seas Team, Florida, USA

2nd Place Documentary: "The Indonesian Throughflow" Olivier Van den Broeck & Greet Meulepas, Republic of Mauritius

3rd Place Documentary: "Maug's Caldera - A Natural Laboratory" Changing Seas Team, Florida, USA

1st Place Documentary Short: "Satan is a Fish" Olivier Van den Broeck & Greet Meulepas, Republic of Mauritius

1st Place Student Film: "Spread the Word" Colin Howe, University of the Virgin Islands

Honorable Mention: "Sumaiyah and Antonio's First Dive" Karl Callwood, Virgin Islands

We at Reef Renaissance Film Festival thank all of the talented creators who entered the competition, and congratulate the winners.

Your support is appreciated!


Entries are strictly limited to themes relevant to the ocean. With Ocean and Coastal Conservation and Sustainability as the central theme, entries may include (but are not limited to) perspectives on Ocean Challenges & Solutions, Marine Species, Animal Behavior, Marine Sciences, Adventure, Travel, Islands, Coastal Areas, Shipwrecks, Children’s Programming, Marine Protected Areas and No-Fishing Zones, Mangrove Lagoons and Wetlands, Fisheries Management, etc. Winners will be selected on the quality of content, creativity, cinematography, graphics, music, writing, technical excellence, narration, and other factors. To be considered, the work must fit into established guidelines described below. Work falling outside of these parameters will not be considered. Best-in-Show, and First Place winners in each category will be awarded laurels and certificates. The coveted "Film Slate Award" is available for a modest fee. Honorable mentions will be recognized with certificates. All selected films will receive a hi-res jpg of the official laurel. Judges are not required to award entrants who place by "default" due to insufficient number of entries. First Place and Best-in-Show winners are eligible for inclusion in the evening film festival. If the winning film is longer than 21 minutes in duration, Producer must provide a "Festival Cut" of 11 minutes or less in order to be eligible for screening in the evening program. Winning entries may or may not be screened during the evening festival, at the discretion of the director.



A. Documentary - Original, marine-themed documentaries, of 21 minutes or more in duration.

B. Documentary Short, 20 Minutes or Less

C. Public Service Announcement, Two Minutes or Less

D. Student Production, Open

E. “Dotcomentary” Short Specifically Created for Internet, Five Minutes or Less – Music Videos may be entered in this category.

General Rules - Call for Entries

Entries are to be made online, uploaded as an unlisted URL to YouTube. Links to the video are to be sent to An Entry Fee of $25 USD per entry is to be sent via PayPal or Google Wallet to All entry fees help pay for Awards and Prizes.


Full Name of Entrant

Address, Phone Number and Email Address

Full or Working Title of the Entry


Running Time

Producer’s Biography, Photo and Press Kit (Optional)

Entries are limited to the Running Times described in the categories in which they are entered. Entries are expected to be of sufficient technical and aesthetic quality as to appear in standard television broadcast. High definition is preferred.

The Festival is not responsible for returning submitted materials. Submitted materials may remain in Festival archives.

Finalists must electronically deliver High Definition digital files (mp4, MOV) for screening at the event no later than 30 May 2017 to

By submitting an entry, the individual or corporation (Producer) submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

Ownership of Entry will be retained by the Producer who created it. By entering a piece of work, the Producer gives Reef Renaissance Film Festival (Festival) permission to screen that work in public, or to use the work, in whole or in part, to promote the event in any way the Festival sees fit.

Proof of license or permission for use must be provided for any musical composition or visual component that is not the property of the producer. Failure to provide such documentation will disqualify the entry. In addition, Talent Releases must be provided for anyone featured onscreen.

Entrants shall indemnify and hold harmless Reef Renaissance Film Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to any materials entered. Festival management reserves the right to disqualify the work of, and deny entry to any person or persons deemed disruptive to this public event.

Awards - RRFF 2017


Best in Show, and First Place winners in each category will receive a Certificate and Laurel, and will be given the option of receiving one of our coveted "Film Slate" Awards for only $25Honorable Mentions will receive certificates. Winners who are unable to attend the festival, and wish to receive the Slate Award, must cover shipping costs ($15 USD).

The Organizers - Dedicated to the World's Oceans

Paul Cater Deaton


Shooting on six continents over a career spanning four decades, Paul Cater Deaton is an award-winning Writer, Producer, Director and Cinematographer, based in the Virgin Islands. His work has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, BBC, MTV, CMT, HBO, VH1, ESPN, Fox, The Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, Showtime, TV2 Caribbean, Austin Music Network, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Tri-Star, Veronica Broadcasting (The Netherlands), ARD German Television, Planete TV (Poland), Beatty Satellite (Saudi Arabia), Proxima (Bulgaria), Caribbean Broadcasting Union, the Travel Channel, DirecTV, Comedy Central, E! Entertainment TV, Bravo, Ocean in Google Earth, and at the United Nations.

He was one of the original three filmmakers selected to produce content for Ocean in Google Earth. His perspectives bring unique insights to the project. He was Principal Underwater Cinematographer for the Season 25 Premiere of The Amazing Race, and Director of Photography for the St. Thomas component of "Risky Drinking" on HBO Documentaries.

Deaton is a member of the Television Academy, The Explorers Club, American Advertising Federation, Boston Sea Rovers, Divers Alert Network, Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago, and the Historical Diving Society. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Texas Society of the Virgin Islands, and the Rotary Club of St. Thomas East. He was honored by Rotary International with a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2004.

Monica Gephart
From glitzy Las Vegas and the jungles of Belize, to Caribbean islands and the Coral Triangle of Southeast Asia, photographer Monica Gephart has been working alongside Paul Cater Deaton for more than five years. A keen eye for both administrative detail and photographic composition make this Chicago native a formidable producer and production coordinator. Monica's photography serves as a cornerstone for the duo's web presence, and within their numerous documentary productions. Monica served as Production Associate and Digital Information Tech on the recent production of an HBO Documentary.
Elena Kobrinski

Elena Kobrinski is a Ph.D. Student in Coastal and Marine System Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, Texas. She holds a Masters Degree in Marine and Environmental Science from the University of the Virgin Islands, where she spent three years studying community engagement and resilience throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. She plans to pursue similar research interests in the Gulf of Mexico and California as a part of her doctoral dissertation. Elena worked in environmental litigation in Washington, D.C. prior to her graduate work, where she developed a strong interest in the legal aspects of coastal zone management, and built the foundation for her recent studies. Completely devoted to the ocean, she is an avid SCUBA diver, and has recently become involved in film. Her focus is on the ability of film and interactive media to translate information between the public and the world of science. She assisted at the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit in 2012 in Santa Barbara, California, and recently planned the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute CINEFISH Film Festival in 2013. The Reef Renaissance Film Festival is a personal and professional creative endeavor. She and co-founders Paul Cater Deaton and Monica Gephart are inspired and energized by the festival’s success and outreach.

Birth of the Film Festival - By Elena Kobrinski



a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival: a moral renaissance.

Our coral reefs are degrading globally, at an alarming rate, and are desperately in need of revival.

In the Summer of 2011, documentary filmmaker Paul Cater Deaton and Masters candidate Elena Kobrinski met for a business lunch at the legendary Iggie’s Beach Bar and Grill, at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, St. Thomas. Through the course of an afternoon, they plotted the creative endeavor that has become the Reef Renaissance Film Festival, and developed the basis of its mission statement: to inspire ocean protection through film and interactive media.

What followed was a whirlwind of activity for both parties.  Elena spent much of 2011 and 2012 on her Masters thesis, gathering 15 local business operator interviews and almost 300 surveys – asking people what they think about coral reef health and preservation – and how bringing people out to visit the reef can be a profound, changing experience.

Paul remained quite busy with his documentary work, including the filming of Great White Sharks off the Pacific coast of Mexico. With a growing speaking and film screening schedule, PCD addressed audiences in Houston, Chicago, Boston, New York, and other cities.

Moving from Chicago to live in the Caribbean with Paul, her long-time love, Monica Gephart brought formidable talents and dedication to the team. Her expertise in photography and information technology expert added a new dimension to the growing festival leadership.

With co-founder Elena moving to Texas for graduate school, and Monica moving to St. Thomas, that initial conversation still permeated an amazing sequence of events.

During Elena’s first semester of graduate school at the Harte Research Institute, Paul edited her Masters thesis interviews into a cohesive documentary, highlighting the importance of reef visitation, with intimate perspectives from local business operators and staff. Their insights were enlightening.

Elena briefly returned to the Virgin Islands in June 2013 to defend her Masters thesis. A matter of a just a few days separated the defense date from World Oceans Day.

A sign? We think so.

The trio launched the film festival amid a flurry of activity, leveraged by the support of colleagues, friends and family, and those who consistently bring their work to life on the screen.

As a wonderful gift, our friend Paul Doumeng donated the space at Iggie’s Beach Bar & Grill – the home of that infamous lunch – for our First Annual Reef Renaissance Film Festival on June 8, 2013.

We proudly screened the documentary, The Fine Line: Business Perspectives on Bringing the Reefs to Life in the Caribbean, with other films from Paul Cater Deaton, Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, Leandro Blanco, and 333 Productions. The event opened with a stellar, ocean-themed performance by our friend, Silver Raven, of Flights of Fire.

Elena and Paul were first introduced by Charlotte Vick, a friend and colleague from Mission Blue, and curator of Ocean in Google Earth. Charlotte gave us the opportunity to be a part of an international Google Hangout that afternoon, allowing us to share our excitement with other like-minded ocean professionals, including Mission Blue Founder, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

The Festival was flawless, and the evening was enchanting. We were overwhelmed by the size of the audience, which was more than twice as large as we had expected. We were energized by this show of support from our island community. We shall remember that night vividly as we go into future years, and as we watch Reef Renaissance Film Festival grow and change.

For the second year in a row, our island home is the only Caribbean location to host a World Oceans Day event. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Reef Renaissance Film Festival, and many more years to come!

The most magical place on Earth lies just below the surface of the Ocean. Get in the water! Bring your friends, and your cameras! It is beautiful under there!