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article imageOp-Ed: Mystery and intrigue surrounds premiere of Blackfish at Sundance

By Elizabeth Batt     Jan 18, 2013 in Entertainment
Park City - Is there a SeaWorld mafia? You might think so if Gabriela Cowperthwaite's latest interview regarding her documentary 'Blackfish', is anything to go by. The movie is set to premiere tomorrow, at the Sundance Film Festival.
Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish, has been keeping the movie very close to her chest. In fact, it has been reported that not even those who appear in it, have had any sneak peeks at all.
Over the past week or so leading up to its premiere at Sundance tomorrow in Park City, Utah, Cowperthwaite was feeding tiny, (but extremely tasty) morsels of info, that are leaving this dog, pathetically begging for more.
Blackfish focuses on the life of SeaWorld's prize bull orca, Tilikum, and the unfortunate path that led him to kill a seasoned SeaWorld trainer with 16 years of experience. In this brief interview featuring the director, Cowperthwaite explains how the idea for the documentary first took shape.
Filmed over two years and featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews, Cowperthwaite revealed that what she unearthed, was something she could never have predicted.
In this interview with, the director said that she had taken her children to SeaWorld numerous times. "I thought I was making a movie about the death of a trainer," she said. But "it was only when I started filming that I discovered that nothing in this industry is what it seems."
Take the interviews the director pursued for the film for example.
"It’s amazing how terrified people are of that marine park," Cowperthwaite told Movieline. "Sometimes people would be willing to speak anonymously, but even they would eventually back out for fear of repercussions."
The director described how on two separate occasions, the film crew flew to interviews only to learn that interviewees had backed out. It was an issue she said that extended to other parks, including Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. [The majority of orcas at Loro Parque belong to SeaWorld].
There, Cowperthwaite described people as being "terrified of being on camera for fear of what the owner of Loro Parque would do." And while she wanted to offer some assurance the director said, "we were followed and our pictures were taken on more than one occasion."
SeaWorld has a lot to protect. Mainly because it is a family-oriented business that often keeps its practices close to its chest. Its prime, wild-caught bull orca -- the star of the enterprise, has earned SeaWorld Inc. a lot of negative press over his involvement in the deaths of three people. But he's also earned them a lot of money, and Tilikum is rumored to be worth somewhere in the region of $10 million US dollars. The orca has also sired an ungodly number of offspring for the company.
So why would a family-friendly business that welcome millions of children through its gates each year, scare the bejesus out of those involved with it? Hopefully, Cowperthwaite's documentary will spill the beans once it airs. Until then, all we have is the itty-bitty clip above, that was released yesterday to It's enough to leave one cold.
Most of us will have to wait to see the movie. Tickets for all showings of Blackfish were sold out days ago. Follow the movie for regular updates on Facebook, and Twitter.
Blackfish / U.S.A. (Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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