Film Reviews

TIFF Review: ‘Sharkwater Extinction’

Rob Stewart’s last dive is a fitting tribute to his legacy

Courtesy of TIFF


Sharkwater Extinction
(Canada, 88 min.)
Dir. Rob Stewart
Programme: Special Events (World Premiere)

There won’t be a dry eye in the house when the credits roll on Sharkwater Extinction. This final film by adventurous eco hero Rob Stewart is a fitting call to action. Stewart, who died in a diving accident in January 2017 while researching the film, continues his mission to draw attention to the plight of sharks that began with his 2006 hit Sharkwater. The director once again takes on the deadly sharkfinning industry, in which hunters catch sharks for their fins and throw them back into the water where they fall to the ocean floor and drown in a terrible, wasteful death. Sharkwater inspired a global movement to ban shark finning, yet Stewart’s beloved ocean predators have seen a population drop of 90 percent in 30 years despite surviving the Earth’s worst natural disasters over millions of years.

Extinction investigates the human activity that continues to devastate the populations of these fierce creatures. The doc charts the globe in covert operations as Stewart and his team go undercover to expose an industry that continues to see the world as an endless supply of bounty for humans to pillage. Stewart is at his finest in Extinction, offering the accessible personality and radiant spirit that made the first Sharkwater so compelling. His work is honoured by a remarkable film editing job by Nick Hector, who assists creative consultant Sturla Gunnarsson in drawing from Stewart’s final footage a film that builds upon his research and acknowledges the legacy he leaves behind. When the film builds to the inevitable last dive, Sharkwater Extinction is a touching tribute that will inevitably inspire more young minds to carry on Stewart’s mission.

Check back for a full review of Sharkwater Extinction when it hits theatres in October.
Read more about Sharkwater Extinction in the latest issue of POV!

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Pat Mullen is POV’s Associate Online Editor, etc. He covers film at Cinemablographer.com, and has contributed to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, BeatRoute, Modern Times Review, and Documentary magazine and is a member of the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. You can reach him at @cinemablogrpher

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