Feature-Length Documentary About the Causes and Effects of Toxic Algal Blooms Takes Top Honors in Cleveland and Detroit Festivals

May 18, 2022 – Malibu, California – Plastic Oceans International and Great Lakes Outreach Media continue to see signs that their joint film production, The Erie Situation, is striking the right chord with audiences, critics and topic experts alike. 

After taking home top honors in the Cleveland International Film Festival’s Global Health Competition, it was announced on Saturday, May 14, that the film has won the Shine A Light Award at the Freep Film Festival in Detroit. This juried award honors the documentary that best uses journalistic techniques to bring unknown information to light or that celebrates journalistic excellence.

“It goes without saying that our entire team is extremely pleased with the response the film has received thus far,” said David J. Ruck, director and producer of The Erie Situation. “It validates years of hard work and the painstaking efforts made to tell a story that resonates with viewers, easily allowing them to understand the root causes and effects of a very complex issue.”

The Erie Situation

The Erie Situation made its world premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival on April 3, 2022.

The film uses its 72-minute running time to adeptly show how a local community along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline is dealing with the personal and economic impact of toxic algal blooms, while offering balanced interviews with a variety of experts and stakeholders, including scientists, legal scholars, farmers, interest groups and politicians. 

Kathy Kieliszewski, Creative Director for the Freep Film Festival, offered this observation about The Erie Situation in the pages of the Detroit Free Press: “This is the essence of watchdog journalism, and the sort of storytelling that is critical to a healthy Great Lakes region.”

Although the film focuses on communities on or near Lake Erie, it’s important to note that toxic algal blooms reach far beyond the Great Lakes.

“Like plastic pollution, this is truly a global water security issue, with toxic algal blooms found on five continents and in both freshwater and marine environments,” said Tod Hardin, Chief Operating Officer of Plastic Oceans International, and a producer on the The Erie Situation. “Without improved measures to regulate the agricultural runoff that is the key cause, communities, individuals, pets and wildlife will continue to be at risk. We hope that the film can trigger the awareness needed to truly create change for the better of all stakeholders.”

The Erie Situation will next get the opportunity to do exactly that, as it screens in Toledo, Ohio, on June 12; and also at the Great Lakes Economic Forum on June 28. To learn more about the film and the filmmakers behind it, please visit https://www.theeriesituation.com.

The Erie Situation

The Erie Situation has won two major film festival awards and numerous accolades from media, audiences and experts.

What Experts Are Saying

“A searing look at a Great Lake going bad. Essential viewing for the millions of Midwesterners whose health is tied to the health of the Great Lakes, whether they know it or not.”

Dan Egan, Journalist, Milwaukee Sentinel; and author of The Life and Death of the Great Lakes

“A stunning piece of filmmaking and a powerful indictment of the forces that are sickening Lake Erie. Its sweeping vistas of what was once a beautiful lake and its focus on storytelling by those who care about it the most are rendered compellingly.”

Dave Dempsey, Great Lakes Policymaker; and author of Great Lakes for Sale

The Erie Situation is a long overdue call for the U.S. to take action now to prevent harmful algal blooms, which are increasing in occurrence and severity along our nation’s shorelines.”

Rear Admiral Tim Galaudett, Ph.D., U.S. Navy (ret), former Deputy Administrator of NOAA, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Oceanographer of the Navy

The Erie Situation delivers the hard truth about Lake Erie: industrial farming with its excessive nutrient pollution threatens our Great Lakes along with its people, economy, and way of life.”

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW (For the Love of Water)

“A timely documentary that highlights key players, factors, and figures in a holistic, informational, yet engaging way. As clean water issues are unfortunately universal, this film is essential viewing for all, and especially those who call any of the Great Lakes home.”

Mallory Martin, Creative Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival

About The Erie Situation

The Erie Situation wades through the troubled waters of Lake Erie, where highly toxic algae blooms are negatively impacting boaters, fishermen, and water lovers. In 2014 these toxins meandered their way into Toledo’s drinking water, forcing the city to go without it for three days. Since then, citizens have invested heavily in new water treatment technology to ensure it never happens again. But the mayor is calling for action at the root of the problem: a surplus of agricultural runoff. While some farmers are voluntarily changing to more sustainable practices, the increasing number of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are finding ways to duck regulations with no accountability for what happens downstream. Shoreline communities struggle to stay afloat—physically and economically—as the sticky, pungent waters leave locals with persistent coughs, itchy eyes, and respiratory issues. Up against a strong farming lobby, scientists and citizens are desperately fighting for their own safety and the rights to protect their beloved water.

About Plastic Oceans International

Plastic Oceans International is a US-based non-profit organization working to foster sustainable communities worldwide as a means to end plastic pollution. They operate with the belief that we can and must act locally in order to create change globally, and we do so through the power of film to empower and globalize community actions. In addition to their global entity, Plastic Oceans has branches in Canada, Chile, Mexico, Europe and the Great Lakes region of the U.S.

About Great Lakes Outreach Media

Great Lakes Outreach Media is a film and video production company that serves clients in government, non-profit, academia, as well as private companies who share their values and goals. They combine their wealth of production experience with insider knowledge and interest in the subjects they explore.