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Ex-SeaWorld Trainer: Director Asked Me to Wait Until After Awards Season to Criticize Blackfish

Towards the end of a very provocative interview with Bridgette Pirtle, a former SeaWorld trainer who was intricately involved with the production of Blackfish, she is asked what she thinks the goal of the film’s director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, was.


Pirtle’s harsh answer:

“To win the Academy Award®. Once it was apparent that there was no real interest in revealing the whole truth, I knew it was another person’s attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the story of Dawn [Brancheau] and Alexis [Martinez].”

“I know first-hand that any attempt of an experienced trainer looking to speak on behalf of the animals was quickly dismissed. Attempts to publish articles that presented a more fair, honest and unbiased perspective were eventually nixed at the very last minute. It was naive of me to seek to expose the truth that contradicted many of those within the film via CNN, the company which had a vested interest in the success of the film.”

The piece by Eric Davis does a good job of recapping Pirtle’s history with the project, all the way through Sundance 2013. It also includes this equally damning bit of info.

According to the item, when Cowperthwaite found out that Pirtle would be talking about Blackfish, she called Pirtle and reportedly asked that she “please wait until after award season to criticize” the film. Blackfish was one of 15 documentaries short-listed for this year’s Academy Awards. Nominations are due to be announced Thursday January 16.

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