Friday, October 3, 2014

"Blackfish" and the impact of Documentary Film

So I bet a lot of you guys already saw this film when it came out last year, but I'm a little late to the party so I'm gonna talk about it now!

For those of you who haven't seen Blackfish here is the trailer, so you can have an idea of what it is about and what kind of film it is:

To begin with this is an extremely interesting film in terms of subject matter. I am not a documentary film student, but I have always been impressed by the medium's ability to draw public attention to issues that many people don't know much about or didn't even know existed. When it came to this film, I was in the latter category. 

I had never really given SeaWorld much thought, which is surprising honestly because I'm not a big fan of circus for the same reasons this film argues we shouldn't be fans of SeaWorld. This film does an extraordinary yet haunting job of displaying why wild animals, Orca's in particular, are not meant to meant to perform for human entertainment.

This film is extremely disturbing, but also moving and eye opening. I have never been to SeaWorld but after watching this film I can guarantee you that I never will. But clearly, I am not the only person to feel this way after seeing this film. 

21 Million people watched the film when it premiered on CNN, and the consequences have not been kind to SeaWorld. Since it's release there as been extremely vocal backlash against SeaWorld. SeaWorld attendance and revenue has dropped significantly in the last year. Also since the films releases, the companies shares have also dropped 22%, and then after the companies announcement of low quarter earnings fell 33% on August 13, 2014 alone.

Critics say SeaWorld is going to have to respond to the demand for change soon, if they want to survive. However, the SeaWorld website still have an entire page devoted to tearing down the documentary and claiming it's all lies. (Which is extremely unsurprising)

In an article for CNN the director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, stated that she never meant to turn people against SeaWorld, "I hope you like the film. I don't know if it will change the way you feel about animals in entertainment parks. I didn't intend for it to do so. I just wanted to tell the real story. And I trust that once audiences are armed with the truth, they will make the best decisions by themselves and their families."

If you ask me, I'm glad this issue is getting so much media attention. It has sparked an important ethical debate that may have otherwise gone unaddressed. It just goes to show the power of documentary filmmaking.

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