The hottest controversy in Canada rages on frozen ice. Historically sealing was considered a respectable job, even heroic, until people witnessed it in their living rooms for the first time – graphic images too sensitive for most.
Appalled by what he saw, a charismatic young activist named Brian Davies set out on a personal crusade to save the seals. Little did he know the battle would last the rest of his life. Davies started a movement to end the hunt. He raised money to bring media out to document the hunt on the remote ice floes.
His images and stories led to international outrage. The pressure reached a head in the 1980s when the European Parliament banned the import of baby white seal products – effectively shutting down the hunt.
But the war is not over. Both sides are fighting dirty. Canadian politicians have revived the hunt. This time, they are in search of slightly older seals just starting to shed their fluffy white fur. At about two weeks old, they are now legal.
Now, a young, tough activist has taken the torch. Sheryl Fink is leading the huntwatch and fighting to completely end the commercial seal hunt - once and for all. At 78 years old, Brian Davies hopes that he will live to see a victory for his seals, while the sealing industry is doing everything it can to keep the hunt alive.
Boulder native presents film at BIFF Screening of "Huntwatch" during festival a homecoming for director Brant Backlund
Posted 24th May in Press Clippings
"Huntwatch," a full-length documentary narrated by film star Ryan Reynoldsthat will be featured at this year's Newport Beach Film Festival, traces the last four decades of Canada's seal hunt, the largest commercial hunt for marine mammals in the world.
Posted 21st Apr in Press Clippings
With spy cameras, historical footage, stunning visuals, and a truly legendary protagonist in activist Brian Davies, this lays bare the past, present, and future of Canada’s seal hunting industry and the people who have been fighting it for decades.
Posted 10th Mar in Press Clippings
As part of our longstanding relationship with SBIFF, we’ve already watched more than one-third of the 208 films being screened during SBIFF 2016. Many of those are featured in our fifth annual Meet the Makers magazine (published in 18,000 copies of this paper and available at most SBIFF venues) and online in our Filmmaker Interview series at independent.com/SBIFF. From those screenings, these are the 30 feature-length films we’ve enjoyed the most, in alphabetical order.
Posted 10th Mar in Press Clippings
For nearly 50 years, activists and camera crews have ventured into the frozen world of Canadian seals, their goal to expose the graphic brutality that has become commercial seal hunting. But there are countless challenges. In Huntwatch, a documentary narrated by Ryan Reynolds, director Brant Backlund pieced together film taken throughout those 50 years all the way up to today, utilizing it to tell the stories of both the hunters and the seals. - See more at: https://www.productionhub.com/blog/post/through-the-eyes-of-huntwatch-enhancing-documentary-through-cinematography#sthash.jwz231qM.dpuf
Posted 10th Mar in Press Clippings
|May 11||8:00 PM||Northwest Fest Landmark City Centre Cinemas||Buy Tickets|
|Apr 26||12:00 PM||Newport Beach Film Festival Island Cinema||Buy Tickets|
|Apr 23||12:00 PM||Newport Beach Film Festival Island Cinema||Buy Tickets|
|Apr 16||1:30 PM||Boston International Film Festival Broadway Theatre||Buy Tickets|
|Mar 5||2:30 PM||Boulder International Film Festival First United Methodist Church, Boulder, CO||Buy Tickets|
|Feb 24||12:15 PM||Sedona International Film Festival Harkins Sedona||Buy Tickets|
|Feb 22||9:15 PM||Sedona International Film Festival Harkins Sedona||Buy Tickets|
|Feb 13||1:20 PM||Santa Barbara International Film Festival Fiesta 5||Buy Tickets|
|Feb 12||10:20 AM||Santa Barbara International Film Festival Fiesta 5||Buy Tickets|
A charismatic and crafty activist fighting the war against the commercial seal hunt for over 50 years
Seal hunt cinematographer and Brian Davies right hand man during the early days of the hunt
Colorado-born Brant Backlund is a multiple award-winning Director and Producer of factual television and films. With degrees in Biology and Natural History Filmmaking, he has a passion for presenting complicated stories in new and interesting ways. His first film, Exhuming Adams, won several international awards including the prestigious ‘Wildscreen Panda Award’ for ‘Best Newcomer’ to the industry.
Since then, he has worked in Europe, the United States, Asia and New Zealand for different companies including History Channel, National Geographic, The Science Channel, Animal Planet, and NHNZ. Huntwatch is Brant’s first feature length documentary. Though not usually a criminal, he once inadvertently stole a car to go on a beer run in New Zealand.
Kerry has been producing short films on animals and the environment for the past ten years. Several have made their premier at U.S. festivals including Cleveland International, Aspen and San Antonio. Some of her favorite moments were interviewing Jane Goodall in her hotel room in NY and interviewing Cynthia Moss at her elephant camp in Amboseli National Park.
With a degree in Communications and Journalism, she loves pitching ideas and is tenacious about getting the story. A New England native, Kerry gets her inspiration from nature and enjoys the outdoors with her spouse Lisa and their 2-yr-old daughter Isabella. It is rumored that she was once seen liberating a tiger from a bar in Wyoming.
Born to a CBS executive in New York, David is a veteran of wildlife filmmaking, a member of the New York Explorer’s Club, and has drunk beer with Buzz Aldrin. David honed his filmmaking skills in Los Angeles working alongside producer Michael Nesmith. He has twenty years of experience in film and media and his most recent project was working with multi-Emmy winning filmmaker Alison Argo, editing her film “Parrot Confidential” for PBS’s Nature series.
David ran away to become a clown in the All American Circus his senior year in high school and never looked back. Since then, he has slept in a toll booth on the Jersey Turnpike, smoked dope with Peter Fonda, wrestled alligators in Kissimmee, Florida, driven 168mph on a Ducati, stopped the Pompidou Fountain in Paris with an umbrella, been punched by Billy Idol, ran camera on an INTERPOL anti-poaching sting across Africa, and married the love of his life in Boston the day after the Marathon bombing. I know, he sounds like a clown... but that alligator part is true.
For over 25 years Rich has been an award winning producer, director, DP, and editor, often at the same time. He has an extensive background in independent film and commercial television production and is the founder of Cathartic Filmworks, an independent film production company that produced features, documentaries, digital media, and commercials. The company’s first feature, “Squeeze,” was sold to and released by Miramax while Bob and Harvey were still running things. He has had the good fortune to travel the globe, filming stories that are rare and unique, with an access that few are afforded. He often returns home with stories of his own, mostly regarding the use of toilets in remote and unfamiliar places.
“HUNTWATCH” is a film that took 45 years to finish. It first began in 1969 with one man, a camera and his undying desire to end the hunt for baby seals in Atlantic Canada. His passion resulted in miles of footage that collected year after year documenting the hunt.
“HUNTWATCH” was reinvigorated in the hearts and minds of the producers in 2009 when they worked at the international headquarters of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Massachusetts. Kerry Branon and Richard Moos discovered the film and video goldmine in the basement. As soon as they watched the first film they instantly knew that they needed to tell this once in a lifetime story.
“Sealsong was the first documentary we found and it was amazing,” said “Huntwatch Producer Kerry Branon. “There were courageous characters flying helicopters, diving under the ice and fighting the political system – all to save the baby seals. And this was just the tip of the iceberg – we had 45 years of similar imagery sitting in our archive.”
This first obstacle was to slog through a mountain of footage - 3,000 tapes and film reels in every format known to man. But it was worth it. Hidden gems began to surface from the footage. There were stories of death threats, spying tactics, knife attacks, destroyed helicopters, extreme weather, frigid water and getting forced out of Canada.
A few months later, the team loaded up a minivan and crossed the border into the cold Canadian winter for the maiden voyage of the film’s production. They followed the Olympic torch and seal hunt protestors from Montreal to Ottawa, met with politicians with opposing viewpoints in the Senate and House of Commons and interviewed experts in Guelph. They captured many of the core interviews that shaped the film during those first ten days, but then they were torn away to focus on other projects.
Production picked back up in 2012 and in January 2013, Director Brant Backlund came on-board to finish the film. A year later, David Kennedy joined the team as editor. They split off into teams of two capturing the political firestorm in Europe and the sealing communities of Newfoundland. The main goal was to tell an honest story, capturing both pro and anti-sealing voices, but the team was stonewalled by sealers. So they improvised and dug into the archive finding interviews to express the sealer perspective.
“We didn’t want to make a one-sided industrial film that preached to the choir,” said “Huntwatch” Director Brant Backlund. “This is a very complicated issue with no easy answer. We went out of our way to try to bring both sides of the seal hunt debate to life.”