Blackfish is not a fun story about a friendly “killer-whale,” in fact it’s the story of how those friendly orcas that we see in movies and parks are captured, killed or sold. It’s also the story of answers, to find out why some of the most violent killer-whales became that way.
The 8,000 pound orcas that we usually see are trained and are kept at very popular parks that we don’t have to name. The film talks about both sides of the orca, as a “friendly giant, seemingly eager to take trainers for a ride around the pool,” and the orcas ability to “turn on them at a moment’s notice.” This according to the official releases on the film.
The film touches on the famous performing whale Tilikum, who the film states was “unlike any orca in the wild.” Tilikum is one of the few killer-whales to ever take the lives of “several people while in captivity”. The film asks, “what went wrong?” Armed with “never before seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts” the film delves into how the whales are treated and how they react to captivity and being hunted.
The film also has a strong message of the “growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry.” Blackfish is a film by Gabriela Cowperthwaite through Magnolia Pictures.
“It’s on the ‘parent bucket list,’” she says. “You just sorta do it.” A Los Angeles native and mother of seven-year-old twin boys Cowperthwaite had been to the park on a number of occasions. But it wasn’t until she began reading about the incident involving Brancheau that her interest as a documentarian was piqued. The veteran filmmaker of shows for National Geographic and ESPN, among others, along with her 2010 doc, “City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story,” like all documentary makers, always has her feelers out for the next project.
“I just read everything I can. And I remember, when Dawn Brancheau was killed, I couldn’t figure out what happened. I just started reading about it, and the more I read, the more confused I was.” Not the least of which was SeaWorld’s official statements that Brancheau had simply slipped and fallen, and that Tilikum had grabbed her ponytail and pulled her into the water, causing her to drown. “It was confounding. There were a lot of unanswered questions, and I felt that if I had that many questions, everybody could benefit from the answers.”
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