During the last six months, cinemas all over the world have been premiering a movie that has already won 26 international awards including best environmental film of 2008. This documentary is Sharkwater but regretfully, it will never reach cinemas here in Malta.
When film-maker Rob Stewart set out to film sharks in their natural element, little did he realise that it was going to change and endanger his life. Mr Stewart discovered the true horror of shark finning and in an effort to protect sharks, he joins conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Their unbelievable journey starts with a battle between the Sea Shepherd and shark finning poachers in Guatemala. This soon turns into pirate boat ramming and gunboat fire chases, mafia espionage, a corrupt court system and even attempted murder charges, forcing the crew to flee for their lives.
Mr Stewart brings to the big screen the horrific truth about the dangers that sharks are facing. Over 100 million sharks are being brutally massacred every year...that's 190 sharks per minute! Finning involves the cutting off of fins and dumping the rest of the shark (most often still alive) back into the sea.
The fins are then used in an oriental dish called Shark Fin Soup. Shark fins are in fact tasteless and it is the other ingredients in the soup that give it some taste.
Sharkwater takes us into the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.
These are some of the most shark-rich waters of the world. Exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations in there, was a risk for cast and crew.
Many countries are now banning shark finning due to its cruelty and waste, but Asians pay big money so poaching and the mafia type corruptions are at a huge level. No one cares that shark fins can contain very high levels of mercury, or that shark finning is to blame for the 80 per cent decline in global shark numbers. No one cares that some species of sharks are already protected because they are critically endangered.
When I recently approached Malta's KRS Film Distributors, I was informed by Charles Pace, that so far, Sharkwater had not been offered to them.
I contacted Tyler MacLeod who is the marketing director of Sharkwater Productions, and he in turn got me in contact with Rosa Riccelli at Dallangelo Pictures in Italy, who are the distributors for this region.
I passed on to Ms Riccelli the contact details for KRS Film Distributors.
A couple of days later I get an e-mail message from her and she informs me that KRS are not interested in bringing Sharkwater to Malta.
The reason given was that "theatrical documentary films are not popular in Malta".
I am sure that if Sharkwater is released in Malta, it would take in more than the average movie at the box office. People want to see these kinds of movies. People want to be educated and also need to be aware of current environmental issues. Why should we only get cheap films like Deep Blue Sea or the Shark Attack trilogy to keep putting sharks in a bad light, and then a classic like this is refused? I honestly hope that KRS would reconsider its situation and give the Maltese public the chance to view this movie which is destined to become a classic. Those readers that remember the masterpiece of 1971 Blue Water, White Death know exactly what I mean.
Sharks have been around for 400 million years. They outlived the dinosaurs, and global disasters, but now the predator has become the prey.
Unless something is done quickly, the next few years will see species becoming extinct. Mr Stewart and Sharkwater are delivering this message to the world. It is not humans that have to fear sharks, but sharks are in danger from human greed.
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