Blackfish made it’s debut in January 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival. The 90 minute documentary was produced by filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite. It tells the story of the killer whale Tilikum who killed his SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
The documentary has been seen by millions of people when CNN first aired it on October 24th, sweeping the ratings in every group under 55 during the showing. Social Media has played an important role in the exposure of the film. Twitter reported that it was the most talked about show on CNN in October with tweets seen by 7.3 million people.
The film raises several questions, not the least of which is should killer whales be held captive in theme parks. Animal advocates from all over the world are speaking on behalf of captive orcas and are using their voice to carry the message that orcas do not belong in captivity, forced to perform tricks for food.
It is well documented that parks like Seaworld have obtained their whales, dolphins and other animals in cruel ways, capturing them and tearing them away from their families in the wild. It has been documented that other whales have been killed during these captures.
The film has started to gain recognition from the critics. It has just been named Best Documentary by the Washington D.C. Film Critics Association, has been nominated for a Golden Satellite Award by the International Press Academy. It has just been announced that Blackfish has made the Academy Awards short list for best documentary.
The film has made many headline artists rethink their commitment and cancel their musical concerts at SeaWorld. Willie Nelson, Heart, The Barenaked Ladies and Cheap Trick, have all pulled out of their upcoming performances.
Joan Jett has written to SeaWorld asking them to stop playing her music in it’s shows. Heart posted this tweet explaining why they have pulled out of their concert: “Heart has chosen to decline their forthcoming performance at SeaWorld on 2/9/14 due to the controversial documentary film 'Black Fish'."