Does this winter make you want to Escape to the South Pacific?

Take an incredible “Journey to the South Pacific,” at the Saint Louis Science Center OMNIMAX® Theater. Projected on a five-story dome that fills your entire field of vision, this visually stunning film transports viewers to the remote island chain of West Papua, Indonesia, one of the last isolated places on earth.

The film runs through June, but don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of West Papua during the Escape to the South Pacific event on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Science Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. As guests walk into the 6 p.m. film showing, they will start their journey with a tropical drink to enjoy during the show. Following the 45-minute film, dinner will feature jerked grilled chicken breast and lemon pepper pan-seared barramundi, roasted root vegetables and rice pilaf. There will also be a behind-the-scenes presentation from film producer Mark Krensien, along with a live performance by Tropical Fire Hula.

“Journey to the South Pacific” follows young island boy Jawi as he swims with whale sharks and encounters manta rays, sea turtles and other exotic sea creatures in the “Coral Triangle,” an area with over 2,000 species of sea life and more than 500 species of coral — so remarkably diverse it has been called “the underwater Amazon jungle.” During this journey to nine islands near his home, Jawi and his peers begin to understand the importance of helping reefs and oceans flourish.

Calling attention to the urgent need for ocean conservation, the film remains uplifting and warm, showing there is hope for the future of our deteriorating seas if we all make an effort. Illustrating the delicate balance needed to keep our oceans healthy, “Journey to the South Pacific” meticulously mixes somber, serious moments with lively, joyful scenes.

Watching Jawi and his friends floating across the 79-foot dome of the OMNIMAX® Theater gives you a weightless feeling — almost as though you’re immersed in the aquatic adventure with them. As you lose yourself in the film, it becomes clear it’s up to Jawi and his friends to prevent overfishing, overdevelopment and pollution in this paradise on Earth.

“There is wisdom in the old ways,” Jawi’s foster father says, and it is this wisdom passed on through generations that enables children to preserve local reefs and habitats.

“Conservation works best when local people find methods they know will work for their way of life,” filmmaker Greg MacGillivray says. “In West Papua, they already have the ancient, indigenous practice of sasi, a marine management tradition which limits fishing when the stocks are depleted. … My goal as a filmmaker is always to tell the beautiful, entertaining, expressive stories — but at the same time to get more and more people to understand how fragile our planet is and how important it is that we each do our own part to protect it.”

Demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between the natives and a variety of species, the film shows bright-eyed children enjoying their simple way of life as they make music and revel in their naturally enchanting home. Cate Blanchett, who serenely narrates the film, calls it “a celebration of a unique island culture that has developed a special relationship with its ocean environment.”

MacGillivray says Blanchett’s “extraordinary talent has elevated our story to a new level of artistry and emotional power. As a mother, she intuitively knows the importance of involving our children in the future of our planet, and she was able to bring to life with such warmth and humanity the film’s themes [of] nurturing our ocean and children.”

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