Blackfish

blackfish_PosterMagnolia Pictures/CNN Films

(2013) 83 min. PG-13

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Screenplay: Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Eli B. Despres & Tim Zimmermann

Cinematography: Jonathan Ingalls & Christopher Towey

Editing: Eli B. Despres; Score: Jeff Beal

Interviews: John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, Jeffrey Ventre, Kim Ashdown, John Jett, Mark Simmons, Dean Gomersall, Carol Ray (Former SeaWorld Trainers), Dave Duffus (Whale Researcher/OSHA Expert), John Crowe (Diver), Christopher Porter (Former Trainer, Sealand), Estefania Rodriguez (Alexis Martinez’s fiancé), Suzanne Allee (Former Video Supervisor, Loro Parque)

Produced by CNN Films, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s  disturbing, compulsively watchable documentary concerns the 2010 killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando, Florida during a live performance with Tilikum, a killer whale with a long history of violence. This horrifying event becomes a springboard to explore the larger issue of animal rights and the psychological maladjustment of killer whales kept in captivity. As we come to find, Dawn’s ordeal wasn’t an isolated incident but just the latest in a series of alarming episodes dating all the way back to the sixties when orcas first began being captured in the wild and trained to perform. Continue reading