Dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite.
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry.
This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.
Read the original article that inspired Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite here
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Blackfish really is a fascinating documentary. I struggle to think of another example of a documentary feature film that has received so much global attention in such a short space of time, its estimated that nearly 20 million people have now seen the film, a staggering number considering its limited release. I, like many people in the UK first watched the film when it premiered as part of BBC Four's Storyville season in late November 2013. I must admit (having already seen the trailer) I approached it with a great deal of trepidation, seeing animals needlessly suffer is always heavy going, particularly when it's the key subject matter. Blackfish doesn't pull any punches in that respect, it's a brave piece of filmmaking and I applaud the fact that it doesn't shy away from showing some very harrowing footage, some of which is genuinely heartbreaking, who knew that orca's cry when separated from their offspring!?
Critics have questioned the lack of balance within the film, but in my opinion documentaries by their very nature can never be truly bipartisan. Throughout the film the director informs us that SeaWorld and other dolphinariums where approached for comment but unsurprisingly refused to be involved, I don't blame them, the evidence is pretty damning, particularly when your (former) staff are digging the dirt on you.
Since watching Blackfish I have become fascinated about the plight of captive orcas and dolphins. Through reading a number of articles, online petitions and campaigns it is clear that I'm not the only one who would like to see action taken in closing dolphinariums such as SeaWorld. The forced captivity and displacement of these majestic animals has no place in the modern world.
If you would like to know more about the success of Blackfish and its ongoing battle with SeaWorld over their mistreatment of killer whales may I suggest this recent article by The Dodo's Jason Koebler: https://www.thedodo.com/as-blackfish-soars-will-seawor-387840729.html
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