Director, writer and producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite has had many successes in her life but this year after a hard work of two years she became ¨An official Sundance 2013 selection¨ any director’s dream come true; with what is her second feature length documentary and what she calls her
“labor of tough love.”
We are talking about her film Blackfish. She took this film and made out of it an eye opener, she took the time, love and effort not only as an activist but also a concern mother to go beyond the short explanations that weren’t making full sense to her and decided to do the only thing she could…tell a story.
Gabriela is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English and has been directing, producing and writing for more than 12 years a variety of real life stories.
She has directed, written and produced for ESPN, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery, and History Channel, including History Channel’s “Shootout!” a series for which she and a cameraman were embedded with 300 Marines at Twenty Nine Palms, and “Disaster Tech,” a documentary series about the biggest natural disasters in world history.
As we can see her intense background, made her the perfect candidate for Blackfish. She recalls:
In the summer of 2010, Dawn Brancheau, a reknowned SeaWorld trainer, was killed by Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca.
A sad fact no doubt, but one that for the rest f us would have come and gone but for the documentary filmmaker became an opportunity:
Something wasn’t right. Why would a highly intelligent animal attack its trainer – in effect, bite the hand that feeds it? I set out to understand this incident not as an activist, but as a mother (who had just taken her kids to SeaWorld) and as a documentary filmmaker (who can’t let sleeping dogs lie).
The documentary focuses on the captivity of the killer whale Tilikum and the consequences of keeping such large and intelligent animals in captivity. The coverage of the star´s documentary, Tilikum begins with his capture in 1983 off of Iceland and shows how he was harassed by fellow captive whales and left in dark tank for hours, which Cowperthwaite argues contributed to the whale’s aggressive conduct.
Gabriela put SeaWorld in hot water with her documentary claiming the themed park’s ¨humane¨regime turned Tilikum into a killer machine of three people.
Blackfish will be released in July in the UK and the United States; you will also be able to see disturbing footage of other incidents and “near misses” where killer whales have threatened or injured trainers. Many of those clips were filmed as “home videos” by park employees and Cowperthwaite was only able to obtain them because the government sued SeaWorld following Brancheau’s death and they became accessible to the public.
An interesting view to say the least, it wasn’t an easy task at all for Cowperthwaite since it was expected, the park did not provide for anyone to appear on her film.
Among some other peaces of her work we can find:
City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story.
She completed a medical film for UCLA International Medicine.
She has directed a campaign for supply and demand, a commercial directing agency based in NY and L.A
Gabriela currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her twin sons. I might not be an animal lover per se but I can’t wait to see Blackfish and you?