Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
Courtesy of FLiFF

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

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Presents the Florida Premiere of Rob Stewart’s Thrilling Exposé, Sharkwater Extinction

By Sophie Herbut

“The animal we fear the most is the one we can’t live without.” – Rob Stewart

In 2017, news spread worldwide when Canadian filmmaker and environmental advocate, Rob Stewart, went missing off the coast of Islamorada in the Florida Keys while completing the filming of Sharkwater Extinction. Days later, they discovered that a diving accident tragically took his life.

Rob devoted his life to saving sharks, but without them our oceans, which provide 70% of the air we breathe, would be destroyed. Through Sharkwater Extinction, Rob’s parents and film crew will keep Rob’s legacy alive.

The 33rd Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF) presented Rob’s previous films, Sharkwater and Revolution. This year, FLiFF’s closing night film will be Sharkwater Extinction.

Sharkwater Extinction, which was completed posthumously, follows Stewart and his team while they dive deep into the massive illegal and unethical shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it and a conspiracy that is leading to the extinction of sharks.

Andy Casagrande, an Emmy-award winning underwater cinematographer from Naples, FL, who worked with Stewart on the film, dispels the myth of movies like Jaws commenting, “Every time I’ve been diving and have seen them, they’re more afraid of me than I am of them.” He explained that sharks are still misunderstood and are in danger with their population dropping 90% in 30 years. In addition to shark finning, endangered sharks are also used in products like makeup and some fish, such as Rockfish Salmon, are mislabeled at restaurants, but are actually shark.

“When people start removing things from an ecosystem it cascades and hurts us,” Casagrande said. If sharks become extinct, fish that eat phytoplankton and algae, which produce oxygen, will multiply. Left unregulated, it will have catastrophic results on oxygen in the atmosphere.

The team confronted fishermen who make their money through catching sharks. No fisherman is as memorable in the film as “Mark the Shark” from Miami.

Casagrande said, “The most difficult part of the film was when they confronted Mark.” He described it as an “emotional rollercoaster.” Casagrande added, “Rob [would bring] me down, telling me we need this guy to open up to us. Rob could connect with sharks and connect with people.”

Stewart knew the power of the film in preserving the shark population would be more important than a momentary disagreement.

Sharkwater Extinction reveals itself not only as a thrilling, investigative action-adventure piece on the shark finning industry, but also a celebration of Rob Stewart’s life.

Sharkwater Extinction will have its Florida Premiere at FLiFF on Saturday, November 17, 8:00PM at Bailey Hall Broward College, located at 3501 Davie Road, Davie, FL.

Rob’s parents, Brian and Sandy Stewart, will attend to present the Rob Stewart Environmental Award to another film at FLiFF, Poisoning Paradise, produced and directed by Keely Shaye Brosnan and Teresa Tico with executive producer Pierce Brosnan.

For details and advance tickets visit: www.FLiFF.com.