Report: Marseille Festival 2014
By Ellen Cuylaerts.
The 41st edition of the World Festival of Underwater Images in Marseille (Festival Mondial de l’image Sous-Marin) was a joy to attend. Being relatively new to the show, fair and festival circuit, I had previously only experienced the UK Dive Show in Birmingham (with excellent talks and a wide array of gear on display) and DEMA, the show “for professionals” in the U.S.A., where the whole industry is working by day and partys and mingles at night.
The Festival in Marseille is totally different as it is perfect for a day out with the family. Films in the competition are shown in 2 theaters and the displayed programming times are actually rather accurate, which makes drawing up a schedule easy. To reach the hall to watch the competing films, you walk through photography expositions including the inspirational pictures of Blancpain contributors, the winners of the first World Ocean Day competition (UN) with images by yours truly on display (without my name tag though), all the stunning images in the print competition and much more.
The booths were taken by conservation and education groups, manufacturers of housings (Nauticam & Hugyfot), producers of images (paintings and images) and French tourism organizations. I found a special hall for children with a program to tickle the young ones’ ocean interest, and in the center of all of this…food and wine can be found in abundance at very democratic prices.
In my opinion that is the charm of this Mediterranean festival: You can watch movies, enjoy images, buy souvenirs and gifts to support the ocean, prospect a bit for future adventures and in between enjoy a really good glass of Crémant de Bourgogne, some excellent red or white wine and some oysters, all while meeting friends with blue minds! The Belgian, Italian, US, French, Swiss and Dutch gathering was celebrated with lots of hugs, great talks and empty bottles which really made this visit worthwhile.
If you don’t speak or understand French, most of the movies and the opening and closing ceremony are hard to follow unless you are in company of a Belgian (maybe that was why I was never alone!) who is be able to translate. That is my only critical remark for this world festival, the English language should be embraced if the festival wants to keep world citizens visiting.
Of course there was also the element of competition and this year it was a year for French and Italian victories with few exceptions. It is a great honor to receive one of the golden, silver or bronze “diver” statues, which look a bit like an Oscar. Witnessing friends receiving theirs was the cherry on top of the cake for what was already a great weekend in the South of France. I’m already searching for an excuse to visit next year’s edition!
Images by Ellen Cuylaerts, Eric Bettens, Luc Eeckhaut and David Salvatori.