category: Campus News

“Blackfish” headlines Mossy Creek Documentary Arts Festival

(March 3, 2014) — “Blackfish,” the documentary inspired by the book “Death at SeaWorld,” will be featured at this year’s Mossy Creek Documentary Arts Festival at Carson-Newman University Monday, March 10. Former SeaWorld trainer Dr. John Jett, who is featured in the film, will introduce “Blackfish” and answer questions after the screening. The festival is free and open to the public.

“Blackfish,” which will be shown at 7 p.m., premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The documentary tells the story behind the 2010 fatal attack of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by the killer whale Tilikum. In startling images and with stories from trainers, audience members, and experts, “Blackfish,” explores the effects of confinement on orca whales and the people that care for them.

While a SeaWorld trainer, Jett worked with both Brancheau and Tilikum. Now he is a visiting research professor of environmental science at Stetson University and an expert on waterway management and marine mammal conservation.

“This year’s festival features films that take on difficult issues that aren’t often discussed,” said Dr. Mark Borchert, Department of Communications chair and festival organizer. “How children cope with domestic violence, the scope of hunger in America, the confinement of orca whales for entertainment, and even problems in our own community. The films present these problems but also give us solutions.”

“Voiceless” is the theme of this year’s festival, which features a range of documentary film and still photography. It will feature a special screening of the new film “Hunger in America” at 1 p.m. with special guest, film writer, producer and director Zac Adams.

Narrated by “Desperate Housewives” star James Denton, “Hunger in America” is a powerful documentary tackling the hunger epidemic in the United States. Adams, a Nashville filmmaker and owner of Skydive Films, will introduce the film and answer questions following the screening.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. with a screening of the student film “Appalachian Outreach.” Carson-Newman senior Laken Kimsey presents the story of Carson-Newman’s outreach ministry and the lives it is helping to transform.

At 11 a.m., “The Children Next Door” will be shown which tells the story of one Tennessee family. The award-winning film reveals the world of domestic violence through the eyes of children searching for solutions to what is too often a hidden tragedy.

A photography exhibit featuring student work will be open all day in the lobby of Henderson Humanities Building.

The festival will be held in Carson-Newman’s Phoenix Theatre, located in Henderson Humanities Building. Seating is limited. For more information on the festival, call 865-471-3294, or email:

Film schedule:

10 a.m. Appalachian Outreach

11 a.m. The Children Next Door

1 p.m. Hunger in America

7 p.m. Blackfish


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