Films: Keiko the Untold Story

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Keiko the Untold Story

Keiko the Untold Story

USA, 2010, 74 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Animals, Art/Filmmaking, Documentary, Family Friendly
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Theresa Demarest
Producer: Theresa Demarest
Editor: Theresa Demarest
Screenwriter: Theresa Demarest
Cinematographer: Julie Murray
Principal Cast: Colin Baird, Mark Berman, Naomi Rose, Paul Spong, Thorbjorg Valdis

Though the orca whale known as Keiko starred in the 1993 movie Free Willy, he lived most of his life in captivity. It was only with the launch of a campaign based on drawings by schoolchildren that enough money was raised to rehabilitate him and return him to the wild. Those who trained and cared for Keiko, the second-longest-lived orca in captivity, believe it was his indomitable spirit that kept him alive so long.

The story of his life is told by director/producer/writer/editor Theresa Demarest through footage from an array of conservation and environmental organizations, including that of Jean-Michel Cousteau. Keiko the Untold Story was made in large part to counteract the widespread perception that the rehabilitation and release efforts were a failure and that Keiko died soon after his release into the waters off his native Iceland. In fact, the orca, carefully trained for two years, spent the transition traveling with pods of wild killer whales; undertaking a solo journey from Iceland to Norway; and living in a seawater fjord, attended by his trainers, for 18 months before his abrupt death from disease in late 2003 at the age of 27.

But new Keikos are born every day: the heartrending capture of another baby orca, caught on camera, is narrated by marine mammal scientists who go into depth about the structure of orca society and the suffering a young whale endures when confined to the concrete tanks of aquarium facilities. No less poignant are the scenes of young children expressing their shock, with indignant and quavering voices, that the lives of many Willies have no Hollywood ending.
—Val Moses

In cooperation with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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