National Geographic Documentary Films acquired the Richard Ladkani-directed documentary Sea of Shadows in a $3 million worldwide deal. The film just won the Sundance Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary and becomes just the latest of an avalanche of distribution deals at Sundance. Pic’s produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios in association with Leonardo DiCaprio and Appian Way, Malaika Pictures and Wild Lens Collective. The deal was negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers by Josh Braun, Ben Braun, Matt Burke and Ben
Schwartz of Submarine. Pic premiered Sunday, January 27 at the Prospector Square Theater.
The docu is framed as a tense thriller that spotlights a rescue mission to save a collapsing ecosystem and
with it, the vaquita – the most endangered and elusive whale on earth. In the Sea of Cortez, a war is being waged by Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers. A native species of fish, the totoaba, are being poached at an alarming rate because of a superstitious belief among some in China that their bladders — which cost more per ounce than
gold — possess miraculous healing powers. Nicknamed the “cocaine of the sea,” these extremely rare fish have triggered a multimillion-dollar black market that threatens not only their existence, but virtually all marine life in the region – including the endangered whale known as the vaquita.
Scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists, undercover agents and the Mexican Navy put their
lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquita and bring the vicious international crime
syndicate to justice.