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Cinephile Report: Sharkwater Directed by Rob Stewart

Will there ever be another Jacques Cousteau in the realm of pop culture science? The answer is probably not. The idea of an eloquent old man of the sea who speaks in poetics doesn't have that extra zing needed to grab people's attention in our media hyper MTV society.

Enter Rob Stewart, an internationally acclaimed underwater photographer turned filmmaker and shark advocate who also happens to be the kind of young and dashing leading man fit for the cast of The OC.

Stewart showcases his hard work and big heart in his new documentary Sharkwater; an exploration of the negative mythology associated to sharks as well as an investigation into the cruel reality of the shark finning industry which threatens to bring many shark populations as well as underwater ecosystems to extinction.

Stewart's eager but somewhat stunted narration is one of the film's only drawbacks but his beautiful cinematography and environmental heroics here speak louder than his words ever could (or do).

This doc really swims when Stewart jumps into action with Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they track down and stop illegal shark fishers. Tensions mount expertly as pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt court systems, life threatening illness and attempted murder charges are thrown into the mix and we watch Stewart, like a true hero, roll with every punch.

Stewart may not be the king of eloquence but this blockbuster doc and festival darling deserves every bit of praise it has received. Sharkwater is truly gripping and viscerally entertaining while being sure to inspire a whole new generation of marine biologists and animal activists. This film changed how I view sharks in terms of animal advocacy, world ecology and global politics while also making me proud that Stewart and his cohorts were fellow canucks.

Again, I tip my hat to the Canadian funding system that has chosen another winner to support. This film has the power to change minds while also putting butts into theaters; another niche film done splashingly.


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