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.
About the Filmmakers
Blackfish was produced by Magnolia Pictures and directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Find out more about the film at blackfishmovie.com.
“Here’s what I got out of the documentary: kidnapping an animal from the wild and putting him into captivity is wrong. Taking a baby from her mother, be it an orca, an elephant, or a cow, is wrong. Pretending that the injured and killed trainers are at fault when a wild animal acts out is wrong.”
“It’s upsetting and scary to watch the footage of orca attacks collected in “Blackfish,” a damning documentary about the treatment of the animals by marine parks, where they have long performed water tricks in front of paying customers. It’s upsetting not just on account of the human victims, some of whom died horrible, grisly deaths, but also on account of the attacking animals, who don’t seem very happy to be there, to say the least.” – Michael O’Sullivan. “Blackfish Movie Review.” The Washington Post. 25 Jul 2013
“Seemingly supported by chilling video and the oral testimonies of two witnesses to Tilikum’s first attack in 1991, the trainers accuse SeaWorld of cover-ups and misinformation. Much of the footage is painful to watch: bleeding whales, flanks raked by the teeth of their fellow captives; a trainer crushed between two gigantic beasts with only his wet suit holding him together; another trainer dragged repeatedly to the bottom of a pool until he manages to escape. Providing context for this alarming behavior, researchers describe highly socialized, caring creatures used to living in thousands of miles of ocean and ill suited to theme parks where they may be subjected to repeated overnight confinements in dark concrete pens.” – Gabriela Cowperthwaite. “Do Six-Ton Captives Dream of Freedom?” The New York Times. 18 Jul 2013
“We frown on circus animals and we would be horrified by zoos which featured the keepers riding around on lions’ backs or sitting on the shoulders of gorillas. Yet the whale acts are still acceptable. Not for much longer, perhaps.” – Peter Bradshaw. “Blackfish Review.” The Guardian. 25 Jul 2013
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