okeanos - Stiftung für das Meer

Our films

Worth a 1000 words

In order to illustrate the problems affecting the ocean, we have chosen to employ one of the finest and most effective media: film. We believe that film can best convey how greatly the oceans affect us. And how much we need a healthy ocean to survive.

Humpback Whales
Humpback Whales © Fabien Michenet

The problems of the oceans and humankind are becoming more urgent and demand action. In order to do justice to at least some of those problems, we have decided to initiate two films of varying focus: "Our Blue Canoe" about the journey of seven Vaka Moana and its crew across the Pacific Ocean and "Racing Extinction" about an upcoming 6th mass exctinction which is caused by human beings.

"Our Blue Canoe"


In this documentary film we concentrate on the Pacific, geographically the biggest of the world’s oceans. Nowhere else on the planet do more people depend on the sea for a living, over a billion of them being closely associated with the Pacific. But there is another important reason for our choice of the Pacific: acknowledged and revered throughout Polynesia as family members, as messengers of the gods and ancestors, whales often occur there in the world of myth. Beyond this, they also hold particular scientific significance for us because of their place near the top of many food chains, so their physical condition and health of their populations permit conclusions to be drawn about the ocean’s health.

In our quest for an appropriate symbol for an ocean-friendly way of life, we hit on the Polynesian forefathers. Silently, without any modern navigational aids and without consuming any fossil fuel, they sailed across the Pacific several millennia ago in big canoes known as vaka. From Tangaroa, the sea-god, they took only as much fish as they needed to sustain life—a mode of existence that testified to their respect for his domain. For the past few decades, many people in the Pacific have been engaged in reviving this traditional form of seamanship and way of life. We have, therefore, chosen to film a voyage aboard a traditional vaka as a metaphor for a sustainable lifestyle.

Vaka Hine Moana
Vaka Hine Moana © Tanja Winkler

The leading actors and actresses in our film are the people of the Pacific islands and neighbouring countries who sail the vaka—and, of course, the people and sea creatures they encounter. We are convinced that the ocean’s spirituality and immensity, together with its fascinating inhabitants and the beauty of a vaka voyage across the great Pacific Ocean, will touch the hearts of people all over the world and heighten their sensitivity to the problems besetting the ocean. We are strengthened in this belief by the assistance we have already received from many wonderful people in the Pacific area.

Our film will be completed by the middle of 2015. The film crew is in the process of reviewing, selecting and editing the wonderful but also very comprehensive footage. More about the content of the film team and its release date can be found in due time on this website or on the website of Pacific Voyagers.


"Racing Extinction"


In the course of the earth’s history there have been several huge surges of extinction in which more than 50% of species died out all over the world. Most experts describe five of these disasters as the five great mass extinctions. The best-known occurred 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth, wiped out by an asteroid. The various mass extinctions are always attributed to certain events: fluctuations in sea level, intense volcanic activity, meteorite strikes, and climate change. The earth recovered.

We are now heading for the sixth such occurrence, and the sole cause of it is the human race. No one knows if the earth will recover under human influence. Scientists predict we will lose half of all species on the planet by the end of the century. And this time, we are the asteroid.

Against this background Okeanos has decided to produce a new film, together with the non-profit organization Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), that deals with this important issue and seeks to convey it to the broad public with lasting images and distinct facts. Dieter Paulmann, founder and chairman of the Okeanos - Foundation for the Sea, is the main Executive Producer of the film.

The documentary "Racing Extinction" demonstrates the visual and acoustic beauty and variety of the earth and its oceans. It also shows what we will lose, and what life itself will forfeit in intensity, colour and sound, if we fail to act now.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (January 22 - February 1, 2015) in Park City, Utah (US). Suncance is one of the largest independent film festivals in the United State and a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers.

Right after Sundance the Discovery Channel has picked up domestic and international rights to Racing Extinction. The network plans to premiere Racing Extinction nearly simultaneously on the same day later this year in all of its 220 markets. It will also get a 10-market stateside theatrical run before it is shown on TV. After its broadcast premiere Racing Extinction will go to other platforms, including VOD. For information about upcoming screenings visit Racing Extinction's website.

Louie Psihoyos

About the director of Racing Extinction: The Oscar-and Academy Award-winning director of the documentary film "The Cove" - Louie Psihoyos - is directing this film. In 2009 his documentary "The Cove" called the public's attention to the yearly mass slaughter of dolphins in the Japanese coastal town Taiji. This was the first time ever that these awful events were made public and the film got world famous and acknowledged. It has garnered over 70 awards globally.

Louie is Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) and recognized as one of the top photographers in the world. He was hired directly out of college to shoot for National Geographic and created images for the yellow-bordered magazine for 18 years. His ability to bring humanity and wit to complicated science stories carries over to his filmmaking. An ardent diver and dive photographer, he feels compelled to show the world the decline of our planet’s crucial resource, the oceans.

The movie director's statement about "Racing Extinction":

"A film can be the most powerful weapon in the world—a weapon of mass construction. I’m interested in radically changing how people perceive a documentary by making it entertaining and using narrative filmmaking conventions. With this film I want to tackle the most important problem the world has ever faced, the epic loss of biodiversity. By creating a compelling film and a groundbreaking activation campaign, we want to create a movement that inspires the masses. Humanity is one step away from greatness or disaster... It could be that a film helps save us."

Read more about the film on the "Racing Extinction" website and the "Racing Extinction" Facebook page.

Here you can watch the trailer.

Articles and reviews:

Can movies slow extinction? This filmmaker thinks so

'Racing Extinction': Film Review

The Power and Pleasure You Can Unleash When Your Inner Artist Joins Your Inner Activist

Discovery Channel to Air 'Racing Extinction' Worldwide

Discovery Acquires ‘Racing Extinction’ Sundance Docu For Global Event Broadcast

Racing Extinction: A Must-See Documentary of 2015, World Premier at Sundance

Nature's Biggest Covert Protector Is Back

In ‘Racing Extinction’ the Director of ‘The Cove’ Targets a Network of Earth’s Problems [Sundance 2015]

'Racing Extinction' Sounds Alarm on Ocean's Endangered Creatures

'Racing Extinction' Documentary a Call to Save the Planet

Sundance: Leilani Munter is racing for the green — the eco-version, that is

Projecting Change: The Makers Of 'The Cove' And 'Racing Extinction' On Endangered Species

The Night Endangered Species Took Over The United Nations

"With Elon Musk, Director Louie Psihoyos Takes On Mass Extinction in ′6′"

"Tribeca Video: 'The Cove' Director Discusses His Latest Activist Doc"

"If "The Cove" Inspired You ... Wait Till You See "6""

Exclusive Interview: Louie Psihoyos Talks New Docu-Thriller, ’6′

Oscar-Winning Director of ‘The Cove’ Unveils ‘6’