Esteemed film maker Ken Burns will also be interviewing Captain Watson this week for a film he is presently working on about the environmental movement. Mr. Burns created masterful epics like the Civil War, Lewis and Clark, Baseball, and a new film about World War One.
It has been said that where history makes people famous, Ken Burns makes them real.
The very first media report on this film has been published by the Telluride Daily Planet and the article is included in this posting:
From the Telluride Daily Planet
Thu Aug 28, 2008.
‘Pirate for the Sea' looks at a man few can be
People think long and hard about injustice and suffering. They hold nature in their soft hands and think about it.
Very few, though, rip nature from those who would hurt it, ram their ships into poachers' and jump into harbors to knife nets stringing dolphins.
Paul Watson is that man, and Director Ron Colby's "Pirate for the Sea," which premiers here this weekend, is his story.
"We make movies about comic book heroes, and here's a real life hero staring us in the face," Colby said. "I had a 20-year involvement with this guy - I just always thought his life was worth exploring and celebrating."
The film spends years at sea with the captain and bears witness to the tragedy and comedy of mostly any-means-necessary environmentalism.
Watson is certainly an enigmatic hero - or should be - for a country that speaks of activism but rarely takes it into its own hands.
To behold Watson's resume is to feel like nothing more than a speedbump environmentalist, perhaps an observer.
Watson was a founding member of Greenpeace. The eighth, to be exact. He has put his ships on collision courses with warships testing nukes. In 1973, he represented Greenpeace during the occupation of Wounded Knee, S.D. In '74, he organized the first campaign to stop whaling. Then seals. He left Greenpeace in '77 because of the new leaders' opposition to direct action campaigns because, ummmm, Watson is direct. He then founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
It's current campaigns: Anti-poaching patrols in the Galapagos, halting the illegal capture of dolphins - two people were arrested for jumping into a bay and slicing nets, freeing 15 dolphins - confiscating 100 miles of longlines and driftnets and in the process releasing thousands of sharks and sea turtles and albatross.
The list goes on and on.
It was a story Colby sought to tell. And finally he grabbed a camera. They headed to Costa Rica to sign an agreement that would empower Watson to arrest poachers and work with authorities. The crimes: Shark poaching. Crews would catch sharks and "fin" them, slicing off their fins and dumping the rest of the great fish back into the ocean, dying and bleeding. Their fins command huge sums for soups - a bowl of prestige in parts of Asia.
On the way, the crew and Watson intercepted a poacher ship off the coast of Guatemala. The coast guard said to bring the poachers in. But then said if he did they'd arrest Watson himself. They let them go.
"Everything's a little suspect down there, and some money had probably changed hands," Colby said. "It's a tremendous, billion-dollar business." That's how Watson's life goes, really.
The film follows him as he supplies ships and does what Watson does, which is moral patrol the seas. It's a look at roughneck environmentalism, not the kind that appears on the backs of T-Shirts.
These types of tales - of the hard men and women who've taken environmental law into their calloused hands and cracked faces - have begun to gain traction. Not only with audiences but with the big studios and film festivals.
"I'm delighted that Telluride has selected this," Colby said. "It's just mayhem out there right now. People are taking more and more fish."
Watson operates without borders and restrictions, a beacon of intolerance.
"He feels he's right," Colby said. "He's intrepid. He just keeps going along, doing what he believes has to be done ... he feels the law is on his side. The law of nature and the law itself."
The lay may be. Watson sails under the UN World Charter for Nature, which in part reads " All persons, in accordance with their national legislation, shall have the opportunity to participate, individually or with others, in the formulation of decisions of direct concern to their environment, and shall have access to means of redress when their environment has suffered damage or degradation."
"It certainly gives him a moral highground ... let's face it - most of these people out there are operating illegally, if not morally," Colby said.
"I tried to show his life story, what he does ... People feel helpless in the face of what's going on," Colby said. "I think that people can get much more informed and much more aggressive about what's going on ... it's their planet. To just leave it barren for the next generation is a horrific idea."