Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sundance Film Festival: London: Blackfish

Tonight's adventures took me to the Sundance Film Festival. And before you get I haven't hopped across the Atlantic! In fact, Sundance has come over to England's sunny green pastures for what will be the second edition of Sundance film festival here in London.

I'd won tickets to the film, Blackfish, courtesy of Dogwoof. I'd thought the film looked interesting but was unsure of what I was going to see. Nevertheless, I 'skipped' up to the giant yellow signs, greeted by an army of yellow uniformed stewards to point me in the right direction.

Blackfish is a documentary film directed by Gabriella Cowperthwaite, delving into the curiously hidden truths behind the fairytale sea parks such as SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. We are plunged into a harrowing story of killer whales (or Orcas) who are kept in captivity and the equally distressing stories of various Seaworld trainers, who have been attacked or killed by   these supposedly dangerous creatures. 

But are they really dangerous? Is it not the human race who are the true dangers? This is the question that is implicitly asked throughout the film.

It was a beautifully crafted documentary that had most viewers in tears from beginning to end. The subject matter reminded me of a french film I saw last year and featured at the Cannes Film Festival called De Rouille et D'os (Rust & Bone, starring Marion Cotillard.) The fact that this issue was portrayed in a documentary format suddenly made it even more heartrending.

The Q & A session revealed that the film had incited many viewers to want to know what they can do to fight against this $3.1 billion dollar enterprise. This is an enterprise that elaborately lies about the living conditions of the killer whales and even the details of the attacks on the trainers.
I found myself incredibly moved by both the stories of the trainers who were killed, and of the orcas,  who continue to spend their lives in a concrete bathtub. The director had clearly made this film to make a change, for the next generation about to experience the likes of SeaWorld.

Needless to say I didn't 'skip' away from Sundance, but walked away feeling as though I'd been enlightened to a controversial issue that I knew existed but that had details and hidden truths that I most certainly was not aware of. As mentioned in the documentary, let's hope we look back on this in 50 years time and everyone recognises how barbaric it truly is.

Blackfish will be out in cinemas in the UK from 26th July 2013.

Ess Double You x


  1. I am so thrilled to hear the movie was well received in London. I saw it at the Sarasota Film Festival opening April 5 & have been crying about what SeaWorld does to Orcas since. But not only crying, I have become determined to make a difference about it.

    1. It was brilliantly received and here's hoping the film can make a difference!