Discovery Channel acquired worldwide television rights to the feature documentary Huntwatch narrated by actor Ryan Reynolds and produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The film, which follows the 50 year history of Canada’s commercial harp seal hunt, will air in the U.S. on Thursday, September 22 at 10 p.m. ET, immediately following a limited theatrical release by Discovery and Lionsgate, and will debut worldwide later this year. Lionsgate will also distribute the film on home entertainment worldwide.
Huntwatch falls under the Discovery Impact banner as part of a series of trailblazing documentaries, including other important non-fiction films like Racing Extinction and Sonic Sea, which look at humanity’s impact on the environment and what we can do to solve related global problems.
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“Like most people, I thought the horrendous practice of clubbing seals for fur ended a long time ago,” said John Hoffman EVP Documentaries and Specials, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel. “By documenting these inhumane acts IFAW has created a valuable visual weapon to expose them. Discovery’s goal is to sound the alarm worldwide that this is still happening and ignite change.”
IFAW was founded in 1969 to stop this hunt and has been campaigning for nearly five decades to bring it to an end. One of the primary strategies had been to capture images to show the world the cruelty that was happening on the remote ice floes of Atlantic Canada. Huntwatch and Discovery will now bring the issue back into living rooms around the world, prompting the question, “Should this still be happening?”
“We are delighted that Discovery is bringing Huntwatch to the world,” said IFAW President and CEO, Azzedine Downes. “Discovery’s commitment and courage to present the film is inspiring and we hope that the massive global Discovery audience will join us to help relegate the commercial seal hunt to where it belongs—in history books. We couldn’t have a better partner for our film.”
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The commercial seal hunt is in decline. Last year, 35,000 seals were killed, compared to an average of 350,000 in previous years, but federal subsidies within Canada keep it alive. IFAW is calling on the new government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support alternative industries instead of supporting commercial sealing onCanada’s East Coast.
The deal was negotiated by Kevin Iwashina and Zac Bright of Preferred Content on behalf of International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Huntwatch is directed by Brant Backlund; editors, Brant Backlund and David Kennedy; producers, Kerry Branon,Richard Moos, Brant Backlund, David Kennedy; executive producers, Azzedine Downes, Erica Martin, Shawna Moos; narrator, Ryan Reynolds; writer, Brant Backlund; director of photography, Richard Moos. For Discovery Channel: supervising producer, Ryan Harrington; executive producer, John Hoffman.