Filmmakers Jeanie Ackley and Carl McNeil recently released their fifth film, “Itu’s Bones,” which dives into issues surrounding bonefishing in the Cook Islands.
After years of having a difficult time getting into bonefish (yet all the while watching local fisherman drag in net after net to eat or sell at markets), McNeil, Ackley, and their friend and cameraman Earl Kingi returned to the Cook Islands to document and raise awareness about these fish and their habitat. Learning about the local customs and traditions, they taught the once-expert-net-fisherman Itu Davey how to fly fish. In the period since the film, Davey “has made such a successful transition from net fisherman to fly-casting catch-and-release tourist operator,” and the Ministry of Marine Resources in the Cook Islands has created a bonefish reserve near Aitutaki.
The film project, which will premier on Cook Island TV later this month, was self-funded. “We always thought this would be our philanthropic film,” Carl McNeil says, being especially proud of the positive impact it has had for the Aitutaki people and the island’s ecosystem.