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Blackfish (2013)

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

When parents take their children to Sea World, they're hoping for that look of innocent amazement in their kids' eyes. The family watches huge, extraordinary Orca whales jump from the water. Then animals perform tricks, the kids gape, and then the family goes home.

But what about the Orcas? They're stuck inside those tanks with many other whales, and they're getting angrier by the second. Especially since many of Sea World's workers are abusive, basically prodding the Orcas until they lash out at them, which some have done, particularly a giant male whale named Tilikum. Tilikum has killed three humans and seriously injured several others. Because it's not supposed to be caged like that. Have you never seen Free Willy?

In the grim, eye-opening documentary Blackfish, filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite presents that reality with an unflinching gaze. You'll never want to visit Sea World again—that or you'll be returning on a mission to free the animals back to their natural ocean habitat. There, they'd be able to function normally and in their own personal spaces, not forced to coexist with other Orcas in one tank, a recipe for angry whales ready to hurt people.

Through archival footage and candid interviews with people who've worked alongside these confined whales, Cowperthwaite brings previously unrecognized human-on-animal cruelties to light, ones in which little kids and their parents unknowingly participate.

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