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The Walrus And The Whistleblower

Not everyone loves Marineland. Winner of the Rogers Audience Award at Hot Docs Festival

Phil Demers lives in a bungalow across the creek from MarineLand, the iconic amusement park in Niagara Falls, where he had his dream job as an animal trainer for over a decade. He swam with killer whales and ran the show, until he quit and blew the whistle, making claims of animal abuse and calling for an end to the near 60-year-old practice of keeping marine mammals in pools.

Known in the media as @walruswhisperer, Phil has amassed 27,000 followers on Twitter, has appeared 4 times on the Joe Rogan show, has testified before the Canadian Senate, and is being sued for $1.5 million for plotting to steal Smooshi, the walrus.

Phil and Smooshi had become inseparable when Smooshi first arrived at MarineLand, and together they became a viral sensation in the early days of social media. He gave her a sense of security, she gave him a sense of purpose. Now, he's embroiled in a stranger-than-fiction custody battle to #savesmooshi.

This character-driven documentary probes deep into the media story that has been bubbling away for decades. We follow Phil as he champions a law to ban the captivity of whales and dolphins, faces a lawsuit entering its 8th year, and spirals around an aching loss of identity.

The Walrus And The Whistleblower is a personal tale that plays out against the paradigm shift in our relationship with animals, and challenges us to be compassionate, toward humans and animals alike, the nuances of all our stories, and the hills we are willing to die on.

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