Date of Birth: December 28, 1979
Toronto-born director Rob Stewart is creating a revolution to save the planet, one epic film at a time. His documentaries, Sharkwater and Revolution, have both won numerous awards and continue to inspire audiences around the world. His research and breathtaking experiences are captured in his new film, Revolution, in which he brings attention to important issues, such as the planet’s ecosystems and saving the earth.
When Stewart was only 13 years old, he began photographing the amazing underwater world. A few short years later, at age 18, he was a trained scuba instructor. Soon after, his journey continued as he studied in Ontario, Jamaica and Kenya, leading him to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.
He then spent four years traveling the world as chief photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation's magazines and as an award-winning freelance photojournalist. Leading expeditions to the most remote areas of the world, Stewart's award-winning library of underwater motion and still images has been sought out by some of the most popular and well-respected media companies around the globe, including BBC Wildlife, Discovery Channel, ABC, Asian Diver, Entertainment Tonight and various GEO magazines.
While on an assignment as a photographer in the Galapagos Islands, Stewart discovered illegal long lining and shark finning within the marine reserve. Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia, a tradition that has led to the reduction of most shark populations by 90 per cent. He wanted to promote awareness of what was going on, but print media was not giving the cause the desired attention. At the age of 22, Stewart began his own mission, which would lead to a remarkable four-year journey traveling through 12 different countries and resulting in the documentary Sharkwater (2007).
Sharkwater is a powerful underwater film filled with the crew’s real-life events. The dramatic and inspiring story about the reality of shark finning also includes the obstacles Stewart had to overcome to get his story out to the public, including beating life-threatening diseases such as West Nile, Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever and flesh-eating disease. The crew was arrested for attempted murder after trying to stop a boat full of fishermen who were illegally finning sharks.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won a "Canada's Top Ten" award. Sharkwater has also gone on to become one of the most award-winning documentaries, winning over 35 awards at esteemed film festivals around the world.
Stewart's beautiful hardcover book, Sharkwater: An Odyssey to Save the Planet, was released in October 2007 by Key Porter Books. His second book, Save the Humans, was released in the Fall of 2012 by Random House.
His highly anticipated follow-up to Sharkwater was called Revolution, a film about changing the world. This time Stewart’s journey led him on a dangerous adventure through 15 countries over another four years. He researches what needs to be done in order to change the dangerous path we are on.
Revolution received both critical and audience acclaim at several film festivals, winning a total of 19 awards, including the Audience Award for Best Doc at the Atlantic Film Festival and the Most Popular Environmental Film Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It was also a runner-up for People's Choice Award Documentary and the highest rated Canadian film at its premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.
Revolution also won The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Revolution released theatrically in Canada in April 2013 and in theaters worldwide in 2014.
He was on conservation boards such as WildAid, Shark Savers and the Shark Research Institute, and founded his own charity, United Conservationists.
The busy director also made feature appearances on many TV shows, including Larry King Live, Tonight Show, The Late Show, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, ET Canada, Nightline, CNN, MTV and more.
Stewart continued to work towards conservation and environmental awareness and spoke at the University of Victoria, Yale University, Vancouver Aquarium, ROM, various TEDx events, and many more, before starting work on a new movie, Sharkwater: Extinction.
On January 31, 2017, Stewart was filming the new movie off the coast of Florida when he went missing during a dive. His body was found three days later. His movie Sharkwater: Extinction will release to theaters in October 2018.
Best Documentary – Atlantic Film Festival
Best Documentary runner-up – Toronto International Film Festival
Most Popular Environmental Film Award – Vancouver International Film Festival
Audience Award – Victoria Film Festival
The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film – Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Canada's Top Ten – Toronto International Film Festival
People's Choice – Atlantic International Film Festival
People's Choice – Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival
Best Documentary – Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival
Spirit of Independents Award – Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival
Special Jury Award - Hawaii International Film Festival
Best Musical Composition – France World Festival of Underwater Pictures
Prix Planete Thalassa – France World Festival of Underwater Pictures
Best of the Festival Palm Springs – International Film Festival
Best International Doc – Beverly Hills Hi-Def Festival
Best HD Feature – AFI Dallas International Film Festival
Audience Choice Award for Best Feature – Gen Art Film Festival
Grand Jury Award for Best Feature – Gen Art Film Festival
Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award – Shark Research Institute
Special Jury Award – 15 Short Film Festival – Charlotte, NC
Must-See Award (Category: Wake-Up Films) – Telluride Mountain Film Festival
Hero of Conservation – Water Category : Conservation for the Oceans Foundation
Top Ten Films – Cambridge Film Festival
Jameson Audience Award – for Best International Documentary Encounters South African Int’l Doc. Festival
Best Documentary – Film - Nominee Critics Choice Awards
Animal Action Award – International Fund for Animal Welfare
Best Documentary – Directors Guild of Canada
Best Of The Festival – Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival
Best Sound – Nominee Golden Reel Awards
Best Documentary – Nominee Genie Awards
Best Environmental – Film of 2008 National Ocean Film Festival Alliance
Best Feature Documentary – Genesis Awards
Audience Award – Durban Int'l Film Festival, S.A.
Activism through Adventure – Adventure Film Festival 2008 Boulder, CO
Theatrical Award – Nominated Wildscreen 2008 : Panda Award
Youth Documentary Award – Bergen International Film Festival
Shark Guardian Award 2009 – Haischutzorganisation International SHARK PROJECT
Environment Vision Award – Retinitis Pigmentosa International
Viewer’s Choice – Green Jerusalem International Film Competition, Israel
Diver magazine’s Publication of the Year. www.divernet.com
Best Film on Mountain Culture and Environment – New Zealand Mountain Film Festival
Notable Videos for Adults – ALA Video Round Table Notable Video for Adults
Environmental Enlightenment (Documentary) – Visalia Independent Film Festival