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Biggest Documentary of 2013 'Blackfish' Snubbed By Oscars

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The current article you are reading does not reflect the views of the current editors and contributors of the new Ecorazzi

In a major surprise, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and her film “Blackfish” will not be going to the 86th Academy Awards.

The documentary, which focuses on the consequences of whales in captivity, was arguably the most impactful film of 2013 causing SeaWorld’s attendance to drop and international attention on the issue. Ever humble, in an interview last month, Cowperthwaite said she was “rendered speechless” to even have her film on the Academy’s shortlist for documentary nominations.

“As a documentarian you’re just hoping that your film goes out there and does good work,” she added. “To think you might get the biggest filmic acknowledgement in the world—I just don’t have any words.”

The truth of the matter is, with or without recognition from the Academy, the film has done incredible work and has potentially changed the future for orcas in captivity. Still, we’re calling it a major snub. The film didn’t just make an impact. It was also one of the most powerful documentaries we’ve ever seen.

Related on Ecorazzi:
+Exclusive: ‘The Cove’ Director Louie Psihoyos Talks New ‘Heist’ Eco-Thriller
+WATCH: Kids Speak Up for Orcas in Moving Response to ‘Blackfish’
+SeaWorld to Install Exercise Machines for Captive Orcas

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  • RP

    Like the phony “documentary” (advocacy) film that was snubbed, looks like your blog was snubbed also. Backlash well deserved.

    • Ryan Colson

      Looks like your backlash is deserved as well. Five neg votes.

  • clay

    blackfish isn’t a documentary, thus no nomination. It’s a one sided activist expose. In fact when trainers featured in the film said they were mislead and the positive statements they said about seaworld were not used, the director asked them not to speak out about their concerns until after the awards season. I have to wonder, does she really care about the hales or more about the awards?

    • raysondetre

      Blackfish is reality. The deaths are reality; as are the trainer’s discussions are of what happens there. One is quoted in defense of SeaWorld and clearly pro Seaworld. If Blackfish had dug further on reality, SeaWorld would have come off a great deal worse, -not better. They have a serial murderer in forced incarceration for a sperm bank. http://raysondetre.tumblr.com/post/69692896756/thank-you-for-blackfish-my-backstory-on-tilikum

    • Ryan Colson

      Funny that two noob trainers said what you did but the 14 year vet in the film stands by his words in the film and knowledgeable experts support it too.
      Now many people don’t realise the doc says it’s somewhat needed to study captive orcas to learn about wild ones.
      But seriously SW is lying and that’s very documented preBF.

    • $5359704

      Documentaries are never, ever “neutral.” Nor should they be.

      The “trainer” you speak of should be locked up for cruelty to animals. Douche-bag.

  • save dolphins

    What did Sea World pay the Academy to keep this powerful film from exposing their practices to an even larger audience?

    • JimJones

      It’s a fair assumption. BUT it’s just an assumption.

  • raysondetre

    Um, Clay and RP: Blackfish is reality. The deaths and near death experiences are reality; as are the trainer’s discussions are of what happens there. One is quoted in defense of SeaWorld and clearly pro Seaworld. If Blackfish had dug further on reality, SeaWorld would have come off a great deal worse, -not better. They have a serial murderer in forced incarceration for a sperm bank. They did not obtain him legitimately either. http://raysondetre.tumblr.com/post/69692896756/thank-you-for-blackfish-my-backstory-on-tilikum

  • Georgia Prosser

    Unbelievable! The payoff must of been significant. But that will not stop the truth from being known that $eaWorld lies and only has their bottom line at heart!!

  • Animal Activist fom Ithaca

    It’s because Blackfish is bullshit. Research both sides before you start complaining.

    • $5359704

      Actually, no, it’s completely accurate. How much do you get paid to shill for Seaworld?

    • Me

      Disney/SeaWorld endorsed sire. Biased agenda. Nuff said.

  • Free Voice

    since when does a documentary have to be “fair and balanced” or do the work explaining the side of the people causing the problems that the film is trying to expose???? many documentaries illustrate an issue, a problem. the cove wasn’t about the rights of japanese fisherman to slaughter thousands of trapped dolphins. and it won an academy award for best doc. and i have to add, the notion that there is somehow “another side” to this story about whales in captivity is astonishing. it’s despicable really.

  • Guest

    yea sure it didnt get nominated but hell it did more impact to the world(fish industry) than any other movies this year and thats what more important. other great documentary such as Stories To Tell also didnt get nominated.

  • Theresa Pugh

    That’s OK. Johnny Depp has been snubbed many a time. He doesn’t give up and neither will we…

  • C.J.

    Blackfish was an excellent documentary about an important issue, but the same thing can easily be said about the nominees, particularly Act of Killing, Dirty Wars, and The Square (all three of which are much more creatively produced, from an artistic standpoint, than Blackfish). And if you think that Sea World was able to influence the Academy not to nominate it, you should wonder why the Defense Department was not able to do so for Dirty Wars. People who think the issues raised by the nominees are trivial should consider “broadening their sphere of compassion” to include the innocent human lives ravaged by war.

    • $5359704

      Fair point. However I’ve seen the three films and disagree that “Act of Killing” is superior. It basically deceives viewers by not revealing that the Indonesian genocide was largely organized by the CIA.

  • SteveInCalif

    Huge Blackfish fan and advocate here, but compared to other documentaries, maybe Blackfish didn’t make the cut for an academy award? I haven’t seen the other movies, I’m just trying to be objective in determining if Blackfish was genuinely ‘snubbed’.

  • Voter

    BLACKFISH wasn’t submitted to voters. It came out too early in the year.

    It’s that simple.

  • SteveG

    It was snubbed because it was largely fiction… My wife and I were both trainers for many years at Sea World in Orlando and worked with both Dawn and Tilikum. There was a lot of good reporting and footage of the old days back in the 60’s and 70’s but there was also a great deal of fiction, lies, and implications that were just not true that were told by ex employees with their own agendas. Do your research and listen to what even those involved in the film have to say now that see how it has been spun.
    Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.

    • Amanda Cressotti

      Could give a few examples of things that were lied about/distorted? You’re not the first person to say that’s the case but I haven’t seen any solid examples, & want to know more.

    • $5359704

      “My wife and I were both trainers for many years at Sea World”

      Translation: “My wife and I were both slave-drivers for many years at Sea World.” Scumbag.

    • Alan Fidler

      Keeping these animals in captivity is a disgrace in the 21st century and I would keep quiet about the roles you and your wife had a SeaWorld if I were you. It isn’t anything to be proud of Sir! My dog has a more stimulating life than these poor Orcas do. Shame on SeaWorld and all businesses like it!

    • Carlos Landois

      Is the book Death at Sea World also largely fictional? The attack reports (orcas on humans) that are documented in the book regarding sea world largely support the film. Could you give an example of what you call fictional or story enhancing, really curious about it and would like to hear every side of the story. Could you give links or proof of what you are saying?

  • Rehabit1997
  • Ann Flowers

    The two former trainers who spoke out against Blackfish, Mark Simmons and another woman were featured on a Disney Webpage. Disney/Hollywood, one wonders if Disney had any say in keeping down Blackfish. Come on Hollywood, this movie deserved to be a contender.


  • clay

    Sorry PETA. Time to create another film full of lies!

    • tt

      This persons IP address is the same as Seaworlds

  • chemical_echo

    Now with all the trainers they interviewed coming out and saying a lot of their points were omitted from the film. The movie can barely be looked at as a documentary and more of a propaganda piece.

    • tt

      Same IP address as ‘clay seaworld ip. Just saying though douche bag..This is a film made by trainers who tood on whales noses in the water.

      Enjoy your $10 per hour btw. Sleep well.

  • Julia

    Okay sooooooo those of you that support SeaWorld and feel that the trainers were lying…where is the lawsuit from SeaWorld for slander? You wont find one. They cannot deny what we see. It’s not a magic show. Seaworld offers other attractions. They don’t need enslaved Cetacea to perform for the masses. That’s sad pathetic entertainment. What we have learned and what they have taught us is…it’s time to stop. It’s time to let them go. It’s time to stop the cruelty. I think they would rather kill them than let them live out their lives in Sea pens. SeaWorld and it’s educated and informed supporters make me sick. They are either blind or don’t care.

  • Steve

    It was “snubbed” because it was never even submitted to the academy for consideration. 30 seconds of research. Quality journalism ya got going there.

  • duh

    Wait they don’t nominate propaganda for awards?? Shocker..

  • Marine Biologist

    I think she went wrong by calling the movie Blackfish, and focusing on whales. I personally don’t like it since the title is scientifically inaccurate.

  • Thinking Person

    Not so surprising….film.com called in one of the 10 worst films of 2013 for its lack of facts and one-sidedness.

  • clay

    Pretty sad the most you can do is call us names and say we work at sea world. Not even worth discussing if you can’t talk about the issues and just want to call everyone names. nice argument.

  • meauho

    If CNN weren’t running every article about it to the top of their website and running non-stop commercials about it, it wouldn’t have had the impact it did.

    Anybody who needed to watch the idiotically named “Blackfish” to realize that animals aren’t happy when kept in cages is either horribly dense, or has much larger things to worry about – like surviving their war-torn country.

    What really shocks me is that although claims are being made that Sea World has reduced attendance (stock filings and revenue back Sea World claims of record attendance), there aren’t complementary claims or insults occurring against zoos – because a caged animal is a caged animal.

  • Jason

    Theres a LOT of stupid, and easily misled people who dont actually do any research into the information they learn. They listen to what they hear and take it as fact. Stupid people who think this is actually a documentary and not a propaganda hit piece.

    Wake up people and stop being dumb and research your information.

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