International Film Festival Saturday, March 24, 2018, 8:30 p.m. Hilton Meadowlands Hotel

Leslie Leaney, our emcee, is the Co-Founder of the Historical Diving Society USA and the Founder of Historical Diver Magazine. He served on the Board of Directors of The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, The Commercial Diving Hall of Fame, and the Historical Diving Society USA. Currently he serves on the board of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and assists the board of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. Among his awards are the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences NOGI Award for Education, the Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award for Service, the British Historical Diving Society Award, and Honorary Life Time memberships in the Historical Societies of Russia, Canada, and South East Asia, Pacific. Leslie is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, and, at the invitation of Dr. C. Lambertsen, a Lifetime member of the U.D.T. Seal Association.

Laurent Ballesta is a long time closed circuit rebreather diver, Laurent was the first man to bring back pictures of the Coelacanth in his ecosystem. His presentation at Beneath the Sea of that film brought him a standing ovation, Laurent has many times taken pictures of species not yet described. The naturalistic and artistic approaches intertwine in his work. His work is a testimony of the remaining, extraordinary rich and yet still unknown life, and an endeavor to contribute to a global inventory of marine biodiversity. Laurent is a Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year in Arts. Tonight Laurent will present: 700 Sharks into the Night

Jonathan Bird is an Emmy award-winning cinematographer specializing in underwater production. His most recent film, Space School, about underwater astronaut training, is the world’s first digitally filmed live-action full-dome film. He is the host and producer of Jonathan Bird's Blue World, an educational family-friendly underwater adventure series airing on public television in the USA since 2008. His films appear all over the world, on networks such as National Geographic Channel, PBS, ABC, USA Network, Discovery, and even the Sci-Fi Channel. Jonathan is the president and founder of Oceanic Research Group, Inc.,, and a non-profit environmental organization founded in 1990 to promote conservation of the world’s oceans. He is a photographer and the author of seven books of underwater photography with articles and images published in hundreds of magazines, calendars, and books. Tonight Jonathan will present: Devil’s Hole

Jill Heinerth, Explorer in Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society is a veteran of over twenty-five years of scientific diving, filming/photography and exploration on projects with National Geographic, NOAA, various educational institutions and television networks worldwide. Recognized as one of the planet’s great underwater explorers, her expeditions include the first dives inside Antarctic icebergs and record-breaking scientific missions in deep underwater caves around the world. Jill is the recipient of Canada’s Polar Medal and the Sports and Education NOGI Award from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. Tonight Jill will present: Arctic on the Edge

Niki is a career scuba diver and underwater photographer. He made his first dive to 80 feet two days before he was born with his mother marine biologist Dr. Eugenie Clark, aka "The Shark Lady," and both a Pioneer and Legend of the Sea at Beneath the Sea. Niki co-produced his first short film "Pee Wee Goes Hawaiian" with actor Paul Reubens. Niki coordinated underwater productions: Picture Perfect Hawaii, Jack McKenney's Dive to Adventure TV series, CBS's 50th anniversary Pearl Harbor special, Discovery Channel's Ultimate Guide to Sharks and feature films, "Millennium" and "Spy Kids". Niki works in Las Vegas at "O" at Cirque du Soleil. "The Aquarium" honors his mother and stars "O" synchronize swimmers Kanako Kitao and Bill May. It’s an modern artistic ode to his mother who as a child spent hours at the NY Aquarium, admiring the fishes and imagining that she too would one day be swimming underwater.

Michel and Julie are Explorers Club Fellows, Associate Members of the Boston Sea Rovers, and co-owners of N2Pix. They are frequent expedition leaders and guest speakers at film festivals throughout Canada, the US and Europe, and co-founders of an international underwater film festival. They are a photography/videography/technical diving dynamic duo! Their film tonight is: Komodo

Becky Schott is a 5-time Emmy Award winner whose work can be seen on major television networks worldwide. Becky specializes in shooting in extreme environments around including diving under ice, in caves, and documenting deep shipwrecks. . Her obsession is artistically shooting shipwrecks in the Great Lakes and connecting the viewer with powerful stories of tragedy, mystery, and survival. The wooden sailing ships, side wheelers and freighters really capture her imagination. Becky’s participated in many exploration projects which earned her a place as a Fellow in the Explorers Club. In 2013 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Tonight she will present: Truk Lagoon 2017

For the past twenty years, Douglas David Seifert has worked professionally as a writer and award-winning photographer specializing in the marine environment. Douglas holds the masthead position at DIVE Magazine as World Editor. He produces, photographs and writes the popular monthly feature called Water Column. He has written and published over eighty in-depth features and reportage over the past fifteen years. This evening David will salute an old time friend, Valerie Taylor, with: Diving With Giants

Evan Sherman is the owner of Seasick Productions, a full-service multimedia company that specializes in underwater imaging. Seasick Productions provides on location and studio production services around the world. On Evan’s first dive with a camera, he fell in love with underwater videography. His second dive with a camera, he flooded it. He was 19 and had already learned a critical lesson about life as a professional underwater cameraman: passion fuels the artist; tools allow the artist to be. Evan later received his B.A. in Film and Electronic Media from California State University Long Beach. Evan’s professional underwater credits include television networks, Fortune 500 companies, and numerous entities within the dive industry. Evan’s film tonight is: The Calling

Jim and Pat Stayer are explorers and well-known underwater filmmakers. They co-authored 3 books and produced 33 DVDs. The couple has been referred to as two of the best animal behavior videographers, according to Ernie Brooks. Together they ran a dive charter boat in the Great Lakes and discovered 8 shipwrecks. The Stayers were underwater cameramen for the History Channel. Their footage has appeared on several major networks worldwide. Pat is a member of the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame and Jim is a Licensed Captain. Tonight they will present their film: The Wonders of Kimbe Bay



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Maria Hults, Multi-Mediahouse, 631.728.2285,

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