AMC Kabuki CinemasWed, May 1, 2013 9:15 PM Not Available
Film Info
Premiere Status:USA
Year of Prod:2012
Running Time:80
Original Language:English
dir:Gabriela Cowperthwaite
prod:Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Manuel Y. Oteyza
cam:Jonathan Ingalls
Christopher Towey
editor:Eli Despres
source:Magnolia Pictures
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The tension starts simply via 911 emergency calls from SeaWorld Orlando recorded February 2010, including the chilling report, “A whale has eaten one of the trainers.” In the riveting Blackfish, veteran documentary director Gabriela Cowperthwaite takes a holistic, compelling look at the sea park industry even as she pulls back the curtain on the notorious orca Tilikum, the whale responsible for the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau and two others. Via interviews with former SeaWorld trainers, Cowperthwaite makes the point that there are devastating consequences that come from keeping intelligent and sentient creatures like orcas in captivity. Tense, gripping and fast-paced with plenty of cover-your-eyes, underwater footage, Blackfish unfolds like a thriller with Tilikum as its Jaws-like menace. Cowperthwaite’s skills at suspenseful storytelling are impressive, but what makes the film stand out is its larger theme regarding whether it is even possible to transform SeaWorld into a healthier operation for man and beast. Blackfish also raises important questions stemming from Branchaeu’s tragic death: Can man possibly control a beast like Tilikum? More importantly, why should anyone even attempt it if the sole reason to do so is simply to provide superficial, circus-like entertainment?
-Steve Ramos

Additional Information

Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Gabriela Cowperthwaite frequently points out that Blackfish festival audiences are surprised to learn that a woman made such a suspenseful, often shocking movie. A 12-year veteran of non-fiction storytelling, who has produced projects for the History Channel and National Geographic and co-directed with Tor Myrhen the gang documentary City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story (2010), the L.A.-based filmmaker continues to make creative shifts across a variety of genres.