Sharkwater Extinction @ Festival du Nouveau Cinema

Rob Stewart’s third documentary is out and is called Sharkwater Extinction. It is a film that follows him around as he travels the globe investigating the pirate fishing trade. Or more specifically how it is affecting the shark population. The completion of the film was marred by the fact that the director, Rob Stewart (Sharkwater, Revolution), died. His body washed up off the coast of Florida where he was diving with friends. Tragic though that is, it was important that the film be completed and his message of conservation get out there.

Without mincing words this film shows us that sharks are severely endangered by the illegal fishing industry. This should worry us not only because of the peril of the species, but because its destruction means we are putting our own support system in jeopardy. As the shark population is whittled down their ecosystem suffers. Ecosystems are precarious things depending upon all elemens for survival. Stewart follows the breadcrumbs or clues to show us the millions of dollars involved (it is always about the almighty dollar isn’t it?), the cover up and how all humans are involved.

Shark fins bring in plenty of dollars in certain parts of the world. Shark fin soup is made using that part of the shark. Stewart travels through different areas like Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, West Africa, California, and France to delve deeper and update the issues he brought up with his first film, Sharkwater, which was released back in 2006.

The underwater shots are as amazing as you might expect. Showing the director as he swims amongst sharks. Even more jarring are the disturbing images juxtaposed against the pure beauty of the underwater world. The more ugly scenes were obtained via secret filming.

Death, or the idea of it, runs throughout the film. In a poignant way, we are prodded to examine how we feel about doing nothing to stop this species genocide (roughly 80 million are killed each year) from occuring. Stewart still believes in the goodness of people. Is fighting the good fight thinking that if he brings to light what is happening that people will rise up to stop it from happening. He has done his part; the rest is up to us.

A cool Canadian moment is that singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk has written an original song “Child of the Water” for the film.

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