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John Hopkins documentary

Award-winning Island filmmaker John Hopkins’ much anticipated feature documentary, Bluefin, had its World premiere at the 2016 Atlantic Film Festival and came to Charlottetown in October 2016 for its Prince Edward Island premiere screening. It played as part of the Charlottetown Film Festival at City Cinema.

Square Deal Productions Atlantic Inc. and its principle filmmaker John Hopkins have announced that Bluefin, written and directed by Hopkins and produced and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), is officially being released. The $700,000.00 production will travel to international festivals, beginning with its World Premiere at the 2016 Atlantic Film Festival, in September in Halifax. The 53:00 minute documentary profiles the Island’s Bluefin tuna commercial and charter fisheries through the remote port of North Lake, Prince Edward Island—once known as the “Tuna Capital of the World.”

“The majority of the budget was spent on the Island with spin-offs to the local economy, mostly to Kings County. If you take the economic multiplier of four for this industry,” Hopkins says, “that’s a nice chunk of change.” 100% funded by the NFB, the documentary depicts spectacular helicopter-aerial scenes of the North Lake area, as well as slow-motion underwater cinematography.

“People have not seen tuna photographed like this before,” adds Hopkins. “I am excited to finish the film, and give people a chance to see it,” says Hopkins, “the NFB is very pleased and believes it will be an important film.”

Hopkins previously won accolades at the Atlantic Film Festival winning Best Film, Script, and Director for his short Portfolio (1989). After screening his documentary Timepiece at the Island Media Arts Festival (IMAF) in 2010, which profiles his mother and famed Island Artist Hilda Woolnough, Hopkins was approached by the NFB land and landed a development deal for Bluefin. In 2012 at IMAF, John Hopkins also won the William F. White Award for Most Outstanding Filmmaker.

Five years in the making, “Bluefin follows on the heels of recent groundbreaking docs on ‘ocean wildlife’ such as Blackfish, The Cove, and Sharkwater,” says Hopkins, who also served as Director of Photography.

He explains that Bluefin sheds light on a baffling mystery: it appears that normally wary and vulnerable Bluefin tuna have developed little fear of humans off North Lake, and no one is quite sure why. Astonished Island fishermen and scientists offer conflicting explanations for the bluefin’s puzzling behaviour. Some fishermen say they are turning into pets, making them too easy to catch. Local fishermen maintain tuna are abundant and so starving now that they will literally eat out of your hand. But despite Canada’s Minister of Fisheries recently rejecting Bluefin as a Species at Risk, the majority of scientists in Canada and around the world, contend these large breeding Bluefins caught off North Lake and Atlantic Canada are vastly depleted. Bluefin offers insight into this controversial Bluefin enigma from Island fishermen, ocean ecologists, and scientists.

Following the World Premiere at the Atlantic Film Festival, Bluefin was an Official Selection at the Lunenburg DocFest with a screening in September 2016 at the Lunenburg Opera House. In November 2016, Bluefin screened at the Devour! Food and Film Festival in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Based in PEI, Square Deal Productions Inc. specializes in producing documentaries and co-pros for Canadian and international markets, as well cinematography, editing, and TV commercials.

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