‘Shark Girl’ wins top film at Blue Ocean Film Festival

The Daily Fray, JOHN HOWELL 9th November 2014

‘Shark Girl’ wins top film at Blue Ocean Film Festival

The Daily Fray, JOHN HOWELL,
9th November 2014

Madison Stewart wanted to get one thing straight before production began on “Shark Girl,” a film that depicts global misunderstanding and a man-made attack against sharks.

“I made them put it in the contract that they weren’t allowed to use the word man-eater in reference to the shark,” said Stewart, a 20-year-old Australian who won the top award Friday at the Blue Ocean Film Festival & conservation Summit in St. Petersburg.

“We have to be careful how we word things with sharks,” said Stewart, who grew up around sharks with her family on a boat in the Great Barrier Reef. “Half the battle with sharks is just with media. If it was dolphins or whales it would be a different story. Bad things happen to dolphins and whales, without a doubt, but not to the levels they do with sharks.”

“Shark Girl,” which was produced, written and directed by Gisela Kaufmann (Kaufmann Productions) was released June 8. The 58-minute film follows Stewart’s campaign to raise awareness about the ocean’s No. 1 predator. In addition to Best of Festival, “Shark Girl” won best documentary in the broadcast category.

“I hate so many things about ‘Shark Week’ [on Discovery Channel] and the way they twist everything,” said Stewart, who also joined a panel Saturday on shark issues. “They’re just stingrays with teeth. That’s what I tell people.”

The ceremonies at the Mahaffey Theater recognized cinematic works for ocean conservation and awareness.