Sunday, January 12, 2014

Important Anti-Whaling Film in need of URGENT funding!

"Breach - A Story of Cruel and Unnecessary Slaughter" by Jonny Zwick Requires at least $13,000 by Thursday 20th February 2014.

Iceland disobeys international law and slaughters whales for commercial gain, despite an extreme decline in the market for the meat.

Iceland is one of only three countries in the entire world that continues the archaic practice of commercial whale hunting. The government of this 320,000 person island nation defies a global law against whaling implemented by the International Whaling Commision (IWC) in 1986 and sets their own killing quotas each hunting season. The politicians, scientists, and businessmen influencing this decision believe that these migratory mammals are their resources to exploit, and will continue to slaughter them for minuscule profits, despite mankind's awful history of sustaining our whale populations. Let's shine a spotlight on this issue and bring awareness to Iceland's blatant disregard for international law, and more importantly, their negligence to the biodiversity of our planet's oceans.

Click on the above Kickstarter link to read more/make a donation (small donations as well as larger donations gratefully accepted.)

The two species of cetaceans that they hunt, the minke whale and the ENDANGERED fin whale, are sold to two completely separate markets. The smaller of the two, the minke, is sold domestically to the flocks of tourists who visit Iceland each year, while the endangered fin whale is strictly exported to Japan. My film focuses on the spectacular ironies, contradictions and unethical decisions surrounding the attempts made by the whaling industry and the Icelandic government to convince people there is still a market for this meat.

Whaling ships (H) departing same harbor as whale watching boats

Around 800,000 tourists will visit Iceland in 2013. In the latest poll, 20% said they have tried or will try whale meat. These travelers, desperate for a sense of adventure, eat minke whale meat thinking that they are engaging in a cultural tradition. In reality, less than 5% of Icelandic citizens actually consume this majestic marine mammal on a regular basis, and tourists visiting the country, are the ones keeping the minke whaling industry afloat. The minke whalers I spoke with while visiting Iceland are aware of this fact and gear all marketing campaigns towards the misled traveler. They place manipulative ads in english speaking newspapers and post large menus with similar messages in the streets of the capital city, suggesting that the true Icelandic experience isn't achieved until whale meat is tested.

Ironically enough, whale watching has exploded on the island and this year alone, a projected 200,000 individuals will embrace the natural beauty of these animals in Iceland's remarkable subarctic setting. The number of visitors that participate in whale watching has grown steadily since 1995, and the numbers have tripled in the last ten years. In 2002, there were 62,000 visitors while last year there were 175,000 in which the revenues of the whale watch companies amounted to 1.1 billion dollars. Icelanders consist of less than 9% of this years 200,000 attendees, providing clear evidence that these private whale watching companies thrive on tourists and the well-being of the nation's whale populations. In terms of national economic benefit, the whale watching industry stands as an exponentially-growing giant, while the whaling industry represents a floundering minnow. With whale sightings dropping from 98% to 96%, it's time for the government to recognize the severity of killing the whales people are paying to see and acknowledge that the two industries cannot co-exist.

The second of the two species these Icelandic whalers are hunting, the fin whale, is officially listed on the IUCN red endangered species list and is exclusively sold to private companies in Japan. This impressive cetacean is the second largest animal on the planet (Up to 89.5 ft. long) and can live up to 140 years old. This past summer, Iceland set a quota to kill 184 of these massive fin whales, each weighing up to 74 tons, despite the known fact that meat from the 2009/2010 hunting seasons still remain in Icelandic freezer facilities.

Out of pure desperation to rid the meat of these freezers, Hvalur HF, the sole fin whaling company in Iceland, began selling their product to Japanese pet food company, Michinoku Farms. Outrageously enough, this sale resulted in the development of a new luxury dog treat: endangered fin whale jerky. Global outcry forced Michinoku Farms to pull the heinous product from the shelves, but not before providing insight into just how determined Hvalur HF is to keep the industry alive.

The question must be asked, "Why kill what you can't sell?" Hvalur HF CEO and influential business man, Kristjan Loftsson, is the only man who can answer this question.

Endangered fin whale used as a dog treat.

The fishing industry is Iceland's second largest export after tourism, and Mr. Loftsson's position as the chairman of the biggest fishery in Iceland, HB Grandi, grants him undeniable influence on government decisions. Undeterred by international law, the endangered status of the species he's hunting, and the plea from countries around the world for him to stop whaling, Loftsson refers to fin whales as "just another fish in the sea." The man even has the audacity to label his company as "green" by running his vessels on oil from the endangered fin whales he kills.

The bottom line is that whales are facing more problems than ever before. Perpetual increase in global population is having detrimental effects on marine ecology. Pollution, depletion of food sources, loss of habitat, ship strikes, climate change, toxic waste, fishing net entanglement, and noise pollution are just a few, so how can Iceland justify tacking on one more threat to this list?

The above information has been provided by Jonny Zwick

Please click on the kickstart widget to read more/ make a donation to this worthwhile film project.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Blackfish" Killer Whales Documentary (complete film)

Film about the abuse and stress suffered by whales in captivity. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite investigates what happens behind the scenes, and why, if most people knew the truth, we would no longer be amused by the antics these poor animals are forced to perform, or accept how these animals are kept in small confined areas for the duration of their natural life.

"Blackfish - 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, never before seen 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."

Gabriela Cowperthwaite - Gabriela Cowperthwaite is a documentary filmmaker who for more than 12 years has directed, produced and written documentary programs for television networks including ESPN, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery and History.

In 2010, Cowperthwaite completed the award winning feature length documentary, City LAX: An Urban Lacrosse Story. The film chronicles the lives of six 12-year-olds in inner-city Denver, CO, as they and their families struggle through middle school in their gang-ridden neighborhoods. City LAX was acquired by ESPN and DirectTV.

In 2009, Cowperthwaite completed a film for UCLA International Medicine in conjunction with the International Rescue Committee, which focuses on clinics in war-torn regions, with the emphasis on providing ground-breaking medical care for victims of violence. It has been translated into three different languages and will be distributed in eight countries.

Cowperthwaite, who is Los Angeles based, is currently directing a campaign for Supply and Demand, a commercial directing agency based in New York and Los Angeles.

additional links:

Petition to help protect and save Orcas (US citizens only) can be signed here. Signatures are needed by January 22nd 2014, petition will then be sent to the Whitehouse