Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

2013, 80 minutes, Online Screening with Q&A, PG-13


Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

The purchase of an online screening allows you to participate in a live Q&A on Wednesday, June 3 at 8 pm with director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet this mighty black and white mammal has many sides—a majestic, friendly giant, seemingly eager to take trainers for a ride around the pool, yet shockingly—and unpredictably—able to turn on them at a moment’s notice. BLACKFISH unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who—unlike any orca in the wild—has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what went wrong?

Shocking footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans truly know about these highly intelligent, and surprisingly sentient, fellow mammals that we only think we can control.

Questions for the Q&A’s may be submitted in advance. You can either submit them over email to or tweet them using the hashtag #magnoliadocseries.

This film is screening as part of a series called MAGNOLIA PICTURES: A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE DOCS. Four films, each opening on a Friday, with a live Q&A the following Wednesday. 10% of ticket sales will be donated to a charity of the filmmakers’ choice. Q&A can be accessed on the same page where you purchase the film. Q&A will be archived if you are unable to watch live. You have five days to view the film once purchased.