Documentary filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s new film BLACKFISH premiered at this year’s Sundance in January and was instantly picked up by Magnolia Pictures. The documentary focuses on the captivity of the killer whale Tilikum, who was responsible for the deaths of three individuals, and tracks the consequences of keeping such large and intelligent animals in captivity.
The coverage of Tilikum begins with his capture in 1983 off of Iceland and shows how he was harassed by fellow captive whales and left in dark tank for hours, which Cowperthwaite argues contributed to the whale’s aggression. Cowperthwaite also focuses on SeaWorld™ claims that whales in captivity live longer, a claim that is false. “‘BLACKFISH’ goes behind the dichotomy of how we perceive killer whales, or, orcas,” writes Madeline Raynor of Indiewire. “On the one hand, these creatures seem friendly and fascinating to watch as they soar out of the water before a crowd at SeaWorld™. But on the other hand, they have the ability to kill viciously. The documentary exposes never before seen footage and interviews from the Tilikum case surrounding this hushed up scandal. The film spans the orca’s fascinating nature, the cruel treatment of orcas in captivity, and the disillusionment of workers who have had their safety jeopardized by the corrupt and profitable sea-park industry.”
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