Orca documentary screens at Sundance, probes $2 billion SeaWorld

“Three weeks after SeaWorld issued an initial public offering on Wall Street, a new movie at the Sundance Film Festival stands a good chance of putting the $2-billion theme park out of business.

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca linked to the death of three people, the details of which remained sketchy until director Gabriela Cowperthwaite decided to dive into a bloody pool of controversy, commerce and human-animal dynamics in her new documentary. The results are dramatic and feature some of the most horrific footage unspooling here in Park City. From never-before-seen images of trainers being dragged underwater by the orca, to clips of killer whale captures, Blackfish is making a splash big enough to transform public opinion about all animal captivity.” Katherine Monk wrote for Postmedia News, republished by the National Post earlier in the week. Monk continued, “Cowperthwaite says she is not an activist, and had no intention of proselytizing when she set out to make her feature. A veteran documentarian who has worked with ESPN and National Geographic, she says she felt there was a compelling story to tell in the wake of Dawn Brancheau’s death in February 2010. Brancheau was a veteran trainer who was dragged and killed by Tilikum after a ‘Dine with Shamu’ show. According to the 911 call we hear in the opening frames of the film, the whale also ate her arm. ‘I had a burning question: Why would a 15-year veteran SeaWorld trainer come to be killed by a highly intelligent animal?’ Cowperthwaite says. ‘She’d worked with the whale for years. You hear of pit bulls mauling other people but not their masters, so why would a whale bite the hands that feed it? That was my entry point.'” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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