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SeaWorld Says 'Blackfish' is 'Propaganda.' The Filmmakers Say They Want a Public Debate.

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire January 23, 2014 at 4:42PM

Back in July, SeaWorld attempted some spin control -- responding to Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary "Blackfish" with a list of 8 problems they had with the film. They're back on the offensive with "The Truth About Blackfish."
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"Blackfish"

Back in July, SeaWorld attempted some spin control -- responding to Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary "Blackfish" with a list of 8 problems they had with the film. They're back on the offensive with "The Truth About Blackfish," a web page featuring videos and text accusing the "Blackfish" team of creating propaganda rather than a documentary.

"Blackfish," which was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures and also aired on CNN, details the killing of a trainer by an orca at SeaWorld, and makes a compelling case against keeping killer whales captive.

"To make these ultimately false and misleading points, the film conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally, and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create “facts” that support its point of view," reads the SeaWorld site.

The makers of "Blackfish," along with the filmmakers from the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" responded to SeaWorld's latest assertions with their own assertions.

"SeaWorld can call "Blackfish" propaganda. This does not make this assertion true. We stand by the film and the truths it tells. We also stand by the brave whistleblowers featured in it. SeaWorld’s disparaging comments about those associated with "Blackfish," its efforts to dissect arguments and make specious claims about film sequences, are an attempt to deflect from the real issues the informed public cares about," wrote Cowperthwaite in a blog post.

They've also issued a challenge: they've asked SeaWorld to debate these issues in a public forum.

"We challenge SeaWorld to debate these issues with our teams in a public forum, which we will be happy to arrange. Throughout the production and theatrical release of "Blackfish," SeaWorld has refused to directly engage with the film or its points in any public way, despite repeated invitations. Instead of releasing more PR spin, written statements and online critiques (which often allow no comments), we encourage SeaWorld’s leaders to step forward and address these issues openly and honestly in public debate. Let the public hear both sides of the argument (as we have always desired) and draw their own conclusions," Cowperthwaite wrote.

This article is related to: SeaWorld, Blackfish, The Cove, Documentaries, News, Social Impact, Gabriela Cowperthwaite