Michael Harris | Peer Review 12/11

“This is really a wonderful film and I’m glad to be associated with it. I know first-hand how much work went into making it, and the heart and soul of Theresa Demarest and her team, which comes across in every frame of the film.

It really does tell the Untold Story of the Keiko Project, and honors all the critical people who made it happen — especially some of my heroes in the conservation community like Dave Phillips, Mark Berman and Naomi Rose. It’s long overdue.

Plus, the music is really beautiful! It’s a fine piece of journalism and lyrical storytelling, and the perfect tribute to the world’s most famous whale. For me, the Keiko Project was a success the minute Keiko was being lifted out of that horrible tank in Mexico City.

Seeing him in his cool new digs in Oregon, putting on weight, losing his skin lesions, learning how to catch fish again, and of course along the way captivating so many people with his extraordinary personality.

From Newport to Iceland, and then onto his extraordinary 1,000-mile solo journey across the North Atlantic, Keiko was an absolute inspiration to me. And even though he never found his family, the greatest success of the Keiko Project was the promise kept to millions of kids around the world — that Keiko, Willy, would one day be free.

We know that many of those kids grew up to be marine biologists and conservationists, all because of Keiko. And no doubt because people like the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation showed that if we all put our heads together, and aren’t afraid to stand up to the monied interests of the captive-display industry, that promises like this can be kept.

Anything is possible. Congrats again to the filmmakers, and everyone involved with it. Can’t wait until my little boy is old enough to watch!”

-Michael Harris
Contributing Producer/Video Journalist, ABC News
Principal Creative, Baby Wild Films
President of the Board, Orca Conservancy

Orca Network Review |  Peer Review 10/11
“We watched The Untold Story this evening and … it’s a beautifully told story.

I was personally involved in Keiko’s story in 1993 and 1994 ……you told the most important part ‘..of Keiko’s story) very well, which was Keiko’s great successes every step of the way and his complete mastery of life in the wild….The interviews with Colin described to me, for the first time, how Keiko was treated in Norway. I don’t know why, but there’s been a complete blackout of information about the protocols, the daily routines and the attitudes of the caretakers in Norway, or almost anything about Keiko’s activities. In that way The Untold Story really tells the untold story.”
Howard Garrett
The Orca Network

Portland Premiere Review |  Fan Review 09/11
“Congratulations Theresa Demarest!! Your film is fantastic, I’m thrilled to finally see it. Everyone around me was cheering and laughing – then crying – than smiling again. How wonderful to know that Keiko had a good quality of life for his last years.

And what a legacy – cessation of trapping in Iceland, raised awareness of the plight of orcas in captivity, and proof that a captive orca can be returned to the wild. Here’s hoping there’s a chance for Morgan and Lolita, and so many others…”
Adrienne Welsh

DVD Review |  Fan Review 07/11
“wow what a moving piece of art…….this was a remarkable movie….. Beautiful movie guys really thank you so much!”
Julia K | Netherlands

the Queens World FIlm Festival |  Fan Review 3/05/11
“…my review of the film was that words cannot describe how amazing it truly was. Viewers not only saw scientists and other people’s point of views; but we also saw Keiko’s point of view of his situation. Not only that, it was almost a first person experience from Keiko’s journey towards trying to be free. This film has truly inspired me to try and do something similar only with wild whales.” “But overall, I hope this film goes on DVD, I’d definitely love to own it.”
David Caneppa | Queens, NY

Amelia Island Film Festival | Fan Reviews
“I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I thought it was very well done – heartbreaking. I hope more whales get to be free, and that the program [of capturing them] stops.” -Gail B.  |  Ontario, Canada

“I thought it was great that they brought to light an issue that not everyone knows about,” Kovalick said. “I thought the interviews were great, as well as the way they were able to capture so much footage of the whales. That was really nice.”
-Landon K.

Keiko Goes to Amelia Island: A Film Review | Island Art Association 2/25/2011
“Keiko The Untold Story” was a simple, beautiful mixture of the captivating saga of one orca and a comprehensive lesson on all orcas. It drew the audience member into the story, and made it impossible for him not to cheer, cry, and hope along with Keiko and his caretakers. Though the film will certainly appeal most to those who have followed Keiko’s story all along, it manages to make the subject matter relevant to anyone who has an appreciation for animals, for freedom, and for the triumph of human and orca spirit alike.

The 74-minute film played out like a movie, mixing Keiko’s incredible story from start to finish with breathtaking footage of wild orcas in their natural habitat. Music that was at times both haunting and uplifting, written by the film’s creator Theresa Demarest and performed by a team of talented musicians, played throughout. A panel of world-renowned orca experts provided narration, give the film a sense of legitimacy of a true documentary in its subjective delivery of fact direct from the sources responsible for his care.

An unexpected bonus as the credits rolled was footage of children, who had just seen the film, reacting to it. Their honest, basic appreciation of what they had just seen and their willingness to tell it like it is delighted the audience. Laughter and applause echoed throughout the room as one little boy pronounced firmly that taking orcas into captivity was “a very bad idea!” – Review by Libby Smith, Journalism student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL and KeikoDoc Amelia Island Film Festival representative read full review>

the Queens World Film Festival | Fan Review
A great time was had by all yesterday. The festival was held in the Renaissance School’s auditorium to an audience of about thirty, a mix of parents and young children. The children appeared to understand the plight of Keiko and seemed undaunted by the scientific explanations given by the professionals. The audience, all ages, were clearly impressed and moved.

Naomi Rose greeted the audience and held a Q&A following the screening in an adjacent classroom. Everyone in the room had a question. The kids had two apiece. “What did he die of?” “Are orcas defenseless against sharks?” “How can the other Keikos get home?” The reporter from the Times asked two big questions referencing criticism of the effort to save Keiko and the money going to save one mammal vs. many. Naomi answered well, and to the satisfaction of all. Everyone nodded like orcas.

There was an open space outside the auditorium that I thought you both would have enjoyed. Aspiring film makers were taking notes as screenwriters, producers and others gave tips about the process.

About the size of the crowd. It was not a hugely attended festival. Could be that the audience of thirty for Keiko was the size of the audience for all entries. It was definitely a case of quality vs. quantity as the viewers were both intrigued and fully engaged.

All the best, and thanks for a fun afternoon.

Anchorage International Film Festival- Anchorage [IFF], website Buzz reviews>
AIFF- Review mellowjay *****I loved this movie – best movie I have seen in a long time! Lots of love went into this movie and I am sure everyone who sees it will not only enjoy it but be deeply impacted by it as well.

AIFF, Buzz Review keikodream *****This is a great movie that everyone should see. It is so well done that it should have wide distribution. It is just beautiful.

AIFF-review bethann0330 *****Seeing this film was a dream come true. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Thank you so much for making this extremely beautiful and important film. I hope that people all over the world will be able to see it.

November 15, 2010 | Starz Denver Film Festival Screening
My name is Jay and saw your movie last night with my wife Beth Ann. I just wanted to tell you how much I love love loved it! I am so happy there was a viewing in Denver as we have been waiting to see your movie for awhile! And the Q+A at the end was fabulous along with Naomi! I could have listened to the both of you speak all night – I was sad to have to go at the end. I can’t wait to be able to buy it and show it to my kids.

Our 5 year old son is the person who really got us into Keiko, whales, dolphins, and ocean conservation in the first place. He loves whales, sharks, and all sea creatures but his favorite is definitely the Orcas.

Thanks again for your incredible movie and I know that there was a tremendous amount of love that went into it.

Take care, and thanks again!
-Jay S. | Denver, CO

November 02, 2010 | LA Femme Festival Screening
“KEIKO, THE UNTOLD STORY” gives dignity and insight into the journey of the world’s most famous Orca.  Keiko is an ambassador of freedom to all marine animals in captivity.”
Jennie Lew Tugend, Producer of “Free Willy”

October 10, 2010
Those of you who know me may have already guessed I am not always a patient man.  Moreover, I have an attitude about movies and plays.  They are like people.  Most of the ones you encounter are full of bullsh*t, and there is too much background music.  A few are very enjoyable.  Keiko the Untold Storywas more than enjoyable, it was intense. Watching it was an experience.

I was not involved in any part of it during the four years it was being produced, and was only aware of the content in a general way.  My brief encounters with the movie staff were perplexing to me because my familiarity with the subject matter was superficial, and I did not understand why this group of intelligent and accomplished people were so adamant that the movie be produced.

After I viewed the screening last Friday, the entire production procedure made sense (some things take time for me to process).

The movie is due for release in June and I highly recommend you see it with a couple of friends or family; do not go alone, and be ready to hang on for a hard ride.

Pat  |  Mexico

Starz Denver International Film Festival  |  October 18, 2010
Though the orca whale known as Keiko starred in the 1993 movie Free Willy, he lived most of his life in captivity. It was only with the launch of a campaign based on drawings by schoolchildren that enough money was raised to rehabilitate him and return him to the wild. Those who trained and cared for Keiko, the second-longest-lived orca in captivity, believe it was his indomitable spirit that kept him alive so long.

The story of his life is told by director/producer/writer/editor Theresa Demarest through footage from an array of conservation and environmental organizations, including that of Jean-Michel Cousteau. Keiko the Untold Story was made in large part to counteract the widespread perception that the rehabilitation and release efforts were a failure and that Keiko died soon after his release into the waters off his native Iceland. In fact, the orca, carefully trained for two years, spent the transition traveling with pods of wild killer whales; undertaking a solo journey from Iceland to Norway; and living in a seawater fjord, attended by his trainers, for 18 months before his abrupt death from disease in late 2003 at the age of 27.

But new Keikos are born every day: the heartrending capture of another baby orca, caught on camera, is narrated by marine mammal scientists who go into depth about the structure of orca society and the suffering a young whale endures when confined to the concrete tanks of aquarium facilities. No less poignant are the scenes of young children expressing their shock, with indignant and quavering voices, that the lives of many Willies have no Hollywood ending.

by Val Moses | Denver, Colorado
(In cooperation with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society & Starz Denver International Film Festival)

Blue Planet Film Festival  |  October 15, 2010
I had the good fortune to view Theresa Demarest’s documentary “Keiko, the Untold Story” at the Blue Planet Film Festival in Santa Monica.  I had no idea!

Keiko’s journey from Iceland to a large swimming pool in Mexico City, then to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, his eventual freedom in Iceland and finally Norway, is a riveting and poignant story.

Like most folk, I had the notion that when Keiko was released to the wild, it led to his immediate and untimely demise. To learn that the orca had survived a total of 5 years in the wild was an eye opener for me and others in the audience.

To observe the love and trust between Keiko’s handlers, or to be precise “friends”, Colin Baird and Thorbjorg (Tobba) Valdis Kristjansdottir, is a moving and spiritual experience.

I recommend everyone should see this documentary and learn the REAL tale of the famous “Free Willy star”.  It is an important story and needed to be told.

Kudos to Theresa Demarest and her team for their dedication to detail and the truth.

by Anne Hines, “Rosarito Town Crier”  |  Baja, Mexico