Directed by Justin Smith and David Baker, Saving Atlantis focuses on the dramatic effect of the loss of coral reef ecosystems around the world. Beautifully shot over exotic locales, the film effectively interweaves several narratives together, including the potential threat of a Columbian reef at the hands of ‘progress’, a group of aboriginal students attempting to restore the connection between their people and their reef, and a scientific examination of the microbial secrets to coral survival. Despite its relatively short runtime (the film is only 75 minutes), Atlantis speaks powerfully about the importance of the biodiversity of the reefs and the various threats that these natural resources face. While the film seeks to raise awareness of their value, it is also a call to arms to help preserve the reefs for future generations.
Most importantly, however, Atlantis speaks to the power of interconnection. While much can be said about the beauty of the reefs themselves, the film points to the unspoken relationship between the reefs and their neighboring communities. Certainly, issues such as tourism—the Great Barrier Reef alone garners over $5 billion a year from visitors—and even surfing come immediately to mind when one considers their value. However, due to humanity’s failure to protect these underwater havens, their slow death and decline is also having disastrous effects on the local communities as well. For example, Atlantis highlights the fact that the reefs even serve to protect locals from the effects of hurricanes, feeding the people by boosting their fishing industry and even potentially aiding in the search for cures for cancer. As a result, many of these local communities view the reefs as part of their culture as opposed to simply beautiful natural phenomenon. Like other natural wonders and habitats, there exists a mutually beneficial relationship between the reefs and those around them that gives life when their value is understood more fully. In doing so, Atlantis draws an almost spiritual connection between the people have with the mysterious underwater worlds as they rely on one another for support.
In the end, Saving Atlantis is more than a documentary that features stunning scenery and ocean wonders. By speaking to the life-giving relationships that the reefs provide, not only for sea life, but also for neighboring communities, the film recognizes the responsibility that humanity has to care for these aquatic havens and invites the viewer to join in the fight as well.
Saving Atlantis dives into VOD on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019.