What is your overall summary for the film?
Every winter, following the migration of grey whales, tourists, scientists, and conservationists descend upon the San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico. Their presence - and the establishment of Latin America's largest biosphere reserve - brings profound change to the lagoon’s small fishing community. Twelve-year-old Antonio negotiates between the different points of view of locals and outsiders about the changes and what the future will bring. “Whales of Gold” raises questions about how to conserve habitat and species in a way that also sustains the livelihoods of local people.
What was your inspiration for creating the film?
I am fascinated by the way in which ecotourism is marketed as a trip to paradise – a form of tourism that does no harm, a win-win situation for tourists, local people, and the environment. Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the global tourism industry and is especially important to the economies of developing countries. While tourists delight in their immersion in untouched nature - beautiful scenery and exotic animals - they often have no real contact with local people. I wanted to make a film that would explore the impact of ecotourism on one community from the perspective of local people.
It was challenging to make a film at a distance and in such a remote location. It was also challenging to make a film about issues that are complex and changes that are gradual.
What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers?
My hope is that "Whales of Gold" will help viewers think more critically about the multiple impacts of ecotourism and conservation and who bene_ts from the changes they bring.
I enjoyed learning about the fishing culture in Baja California Sur and filming in such a beautiful place.
I was inspired by the relationship that residents of the San Ignacio Lagoon have with the place that they live and with their desire for their kids to be able to continue to live there.
How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films?
This is my first environmentally focused film.
Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival?
I hope your festival will draw viewers interested in ecotourism and conservation in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
What was the most memorable moment in creating the film?
The visit by El Hijo del Santo (Mexican wrestler) to the San Ignacio Lagoon was the most memorable moment. It was such a clear example of how U.S. environmental organizations use the community to create media campaigns.
Lucia has directed films about labor, tourism, culture, and the environment. Her film Making History: SEIU and the Labor Movement won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. As a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil, she made Olinda: World Cultural Heritage Site and Lord of Olinda, and worked for Video in the Villages, teaching documentary production to indigenous youth. She has a BA in Development Studies and Portuguese/Brazilian Studies from Brown University and an MFA in Film/Video from the University of Texas.