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07 • 09 • 2020

The Surfrider Foundation Takes Home Two 2020 Telly Awards

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Florida have caused major environmental damage, including massive die-offs of fish, sea turtles and other marine life. The prolonged and prolific blue green algae, or Cyanobacteria, bloom in 2016 suffocated over 30,000 acres of seagrass. Both toxic Cyanobacteria and the dreaded Red Tide species can also cause serious health impacts to humans as well. 

In May 2019, Emmy winning Director Sachi Cunningham and award winning Producer Marilu Cristina Flores, traveled across the state of Florida to capture the stories of Floridians impacted by the HAB outbreaks that occurred during 2016 - 2019. 

“Unfortunately, both rising temperatures associated with climate change and the pollution of our waterways with elevated levels of nutrients from failing sewage infrastructure, agriculture and urban runoff are creating the perfect conditions for these toxic algae blooms to form across the country.  The stories coming from the watermen and women who lived through these blooms in Florida really bring to light how devastating these events are and how important it is for us to do more to protect clean water and public health” said Mara Dias, water quality manager for the Surfrider Foundation. 

“It was incredibly impactful to hear firsthand the compelling and heartbreaking stories of Floridians and Surfrider activists who were directly impacted by the devastating algal blooms of years past. We hope these stories serve as a serious reminder of why we need to work together to enact change in our communities and reduce our dependence on fertilizers, as well as ensure we’re adopting stormwater best practices. Our choices affect all of us here in Florida,” explains Producer Marilu Cristina Flores.

In December of 2019, the Surfrider Foundation submitted our Toxic Algae Crisis video into two categories for consideration for the 41st Annual Telly Awards. The Telly Awards honor excellence in video and television, and showcase the best work created for all screens. 

Each year the Telly’s receive over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents, and the winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world. 

We’re excited to share that the Surfrider Foundation has received two 2020 Telly Awards for our Toxic Algae Crisis video. 

Earning a Gold Award for Social Video by a Not For Profit and a Silver Award for Public Service & Activism, we’re proud to have our work featured alongside winners such as NBC Universal, HBO and Warner Bros.

“The Surfrider Foundation is pushing the boundaries for video and television innovation and creativity at a time when the industry is both rapidly changing and heavily impacted by the current crisis,” said Sabrina Dridje, Managing Director of the Telly Awards. “ Our theme for this season, Telly Award Winners Tell Great Stories is a true reflection of the diversity of stories the community is skillfully able to tell. Now, more than ever, do we need to celebrate them and those that bring these global stories to our attention. This award is a tribute to the talent and vision of these creators.”

“I always try to work on projects that aspire to affect change,” says Director Sachi Cunningham. “Working on anything for Surfrider would fit the bill - as a water photographer and surfer, the ocean is everything to me. I've worked on three films now about the Blue Water Task Force, but the locations and people - in Puerto Rico, Florida and Oregon, have all been both unique and similar. The heroes are all there, I just have to listen and try to communicate their mission. It feels very satisfying to not only create video stories that will hopefully generate more interest and contributions to Surfrider programs, but to also learn about the critical work that [they] do.” 

We invite you to check out our award winning mini-doc, Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis, on the harmful algal blooms that ravaged the State of Florida and to get involved with your local Surfrider chapter.

Film credits:

Director: Sachi Cunningham

Producer: Marilu Cristina Flores, The Surfrider Foundation

Drone, B-Roll Director: Dylan Hansen

Editor: Matt Volla

Writer: Mara Dias, The Surfrider Foundation

Executive Producer: Ty Smith

Executive Producer: Eddie Anaya