10 impactful documentaries you should watch on Netflix

10 of 11

Blackfish (2013)

Some documentaries have an impact that still ricochets years after its release. Films like An Inconvenient Truth or Waiting for Superman have undeniable power to change the status quo. Blackfish fits into this category — a socially conscious documentary that hones in one a very specific topic, Seaworld.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film uses the death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau to launch into a down-the-rabbit-hole exploration of Seaworld’s operations, the treatment of Orcas, the numerous incidents that have occurred at various Seaworld parks and the journey of Tilikum, arguably the main character of Cowperthwaite’s film.

With testimony from previous Seaworld employees and interviews with experts on the orca species, Blackfish tells a devastating story of the pain that orcas held in captivity go through. From the separation from their pods, to the criminally small tanks they are kept in — Cowperthwaite fits pieces of Tilikum’s puzzle together carefully until it becomes abundantly clear why he has attacked numerous trainers over the years he has been at Seaworld.

In 2019, it has been difficult to understand the exact effect that Blackfish had on Seaworld’s trade and how the film helped audiences to shift their perceptions about how animals are kept caged for park goers pleasure and entertainment. The film was released in 2013, and by 2015 Seaworld’s shares had already dropped by half.

Seaworld’s decision not to give any comment for the film is a tell-tale sign that they already knew that Blackfish was going to make waves for them — and not in a good way.