After almost two years of shoots and editing, Blackfish was finally shown on a big screen, in front of an auditorium full of normal people who don’t obsess about orcas. There were some gasps and murmurs during the viewing, when some particularly stunning footage of trainer injury, or orca captures, came on the screen. And most of the audience stayed after to listen to the former SeaWorld trainers featured in the movie answer questions.
Now, we wait to see if a distributor picks up the movie, which is the next step to getting it in front of a general audience. Whether and how that happens will depend in part on how Blackfish is received by the critics. And here is the first review, from Indiewire:
Nobody from SeaWorld agreed to an interview for “Blackfish,” Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s searing take on the theme park’s mistreatment of killer whales and the dozens of deaths that have resulted from it. Instead, the majority of its subjects are ex-SeaWorld trainers frustrated by the negligence they witnessed up close and willing to speak out. Nevertheless, based on the evidence on display in “Blackfish,” Cowperthwaite’s case against SeaWorld would change little with an opposing point of view. The movie makes a strong case against the captivity of killer whales under sub-circus conditions, but the stance is made even more horrifying because so little has changed in the history of the organization. “Blackfish” is less balanced investigation than full-on takedown of a broken system.
My only quibble is that the former trainers in Blackfish are not “disgruntled.” They are “disillusioned.” But it’s a review that we are pretty happy with.
Here’s one more moment from last night’s premiere that was pretty cool. Sundance Institute’s Director Of Programming, Trevor Groth, did us the honor of introducing Blackfish and Gabriela. And he talked about how it impacted him. You can’t really see him, but you can hear him: