It's Everybody's Ocean - a Kickstarter appeal about a tiny Japanese island drowning in trash - Surfer's Path

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It’s Everybody’s Ocean – a Kickstarter appeal about a tiny Japanese island drowning in trash

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A documentary on residents of one of the southernmost islands in Japan battling with tons of marine debris coming to their beaches.


About the Film

This documentary tells the story of how marine debris is affecting the people of Ikema, a tiny and beautiful island of the Miyako Islands. Known for its stunning coral reefs, the island’s once pristine beaches now play host to tons of plastic marine debris, originating from all over Asia, polluting their beaches, and threatening the lives of marine species. This is the story of a small island’s struggle with plastic pollution.

The History of the Island

Ikema island is a part of Miyako Islands, one of the southernmost islands in Japan. It’s smaller than Central Park in NYC. The population is about 750. Miyako Islands, including Ikema island where Ikema Elementary-Middle School is, has a rich and interesting history. Territorial wars between Ryukyu and Satsuma in early 1600’s resulted in over 250 years of heavy taxation and slavery for the people of the Miyako Islands. Since the 1600’s, the government has changed from Ryukyu, Satsuma, Japan, U.S., Japan. In addition,the residents have faced many deadly storms, tsunamis, droughts, and wars. The resilient people of Ikema survived all of this by relying on their unusually tight knit community and their deep spiritual connection to the island. Their complex religious beliefs intertwine with their gods and nature.

Now, Ikema’s Problem

Because of the geographical location of the island, tons of trash from South East Asia washes up on their beaches. The amount of marine debris increased 10 times from 1998 to 2005.

The people of Ikema are committed to keeping the beaches clean and free from marine debris. They do this to prevent trash from going back into the ocean after storms, and to preserve tourism. But most importantly, they do this because of their spiritual commitment to the island. Still, cleaning doesn’t decrease the amount of trash that keeps coming to their beaches.

Then, Everybody’s Problem

Up to 90% of Ikema’s marine debris is coming from countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia – the combined population of which is 1.9 billion! Only a tiny fraction of the marine debris from those countries ends up on Ikema and Miyako Islands. The rest is carried by ocean currents, mixing with the garbage from Japan’s 127 million residents, potentially ending up on beaches as far away as California and Hawaii, or killing marine animals, birds, fish, and polluting the ocean. By showing the problems of collecting, transporting, hauling, and incinerating marine debris on this micro island, this film exposes the need for an international discussion and action plan to prevent this from happening all over the world.

The Film in 2 Languages

I want to make this film in Japanese and English, but it will not simply be the same film with 2 sets of subtitles. Each version will be unique because not only are the 2 languages so different but also lifestyle, culture, and the perception of “waste” is so different from each other. For example, they do very well and are far ahead on recycling and composting in Japan and the streets are spotless, but the policy and legislation on source reduction (plastic bag ban, plastic-foam ban, etc.) is very behind. Not one municipality in Japan has a policy of banning plastics.

My Goal

“It’s Everybody’s Ocean!” will inspire audiences through community screenings, and as online-educational resources for K-12 schools, as well as be submitted to film festivals.
My goal is to use this film as a connecting tool for schools and non-profits all over the world to share information and take action in their own communities.

Where Your Money Will go?

– Voice over actors in 2 languages
– Music rights
– Sound recording and mastering
– Computer graphics
– Archival images
– Other finishing costs

No amount is too little. Any donation will be deeply appreciated!


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