Back in 1975, Steven Spielberg's Jaws helped birth the idea of a blockbuster, proving just how captivated movie fans were by horror movies focusing on sharks, with the all-new documentary Sharksploitation set to explore the nature of shark cinema and the countless films that attempted to replicate the success of the adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel. Shortly after Jaws debuted, audiences were treated to films like Piranha and Orca, which focused on the horrors of animals that lurked under the surface of the water, while recent efforts like the Sharknado series dominate social media whenever they debut, if only for audiences to revel in their absurdity.
"The movie Jaws had a massive impact on me becoming a filmmaker, and it began my lifelong fascination with sharks," director/producer Stephen Scarlata shared in a statement, per Variety. "I love these [exploitation films], and with each one I watch, my love grows more vital for the species, and my heart breaks more over the horrors they go through in everyday life, from overfishing to shark finning."
He added, "This documentary is the ultimate love letter to the shark movie genre, filmmakers who work hard to make these films, and to the misunderstood species themselves."
While there are surely a number of shark films that are successful due to their absurdity, recent years have seen a resurgence of similar films become major hits at the box office, as evidenced by films like The Shallows and 47 Meters Down.
"Through interviews with filmmakers, critics, scholars, and conservationists we will explore the colossal challenge of making these films, the cultural imprint they've left on audiences, and their impact on this misunderstood species," Scarlata pointed out.
As noted by the filmmaker, while Jaws did ignite wonder in countless viewers regarding the creatures, it also turned the fish into monsters in pop culture. While encounters with sharks do result in deaths and dozens of injuries every year, sport fishing and bycatch result in the deaths of nearly 100 million sharks every year. Additionally, the practice of shark finning, whether it be for trophies or for cuisine, often sees sharks fatally wounded to collect their fins, only to be tossed back into the ocean to bleed to death, drown, or be attacked by other animals.
Rather than merely being a celebration of the highlights of sharks cinema, Sharksploitation hopes to embrace the fictional encounters with the animals while also shining a light on the very real consequences of such a subgenre.
Stay tuned for details on the release of Sharksploitation.
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