Global premiere of film chronicling our founding campaign inspires

The author with IFAW founder Brian Davies (center) and long-time IFAW campaigner and advisor AJ Cady, all of whom play prominent roles in the Huntwatch documentary.I was privileged to attend the world premiere of Huntwatch at DOC NYC in New York this past weekend.

This compelling documentary film uses decades of archival footage to look at the history of IFAW’s founder Brian Davies and his crusade to “save the seals.”

IFAW’s 46-year long campaign to end the commercial seal hunt is a story of determination, persistence, conflict, and adaptability. A tale of victories and setbacks, the film shows how the campaign’s tactics have been forced to change with the times.

Having worked on IFAW’s seal campaign for 18 years, it was fascinating to see the grainy footage from the campaign’s early days, and re-live some of the more tense moments on the ice in more recent years.

While it was wonderful to be able to share IFAW’s history with an audience, what I found most interesting was being able to speak with the audience afterwards and hearing their perspectives on the film.

One viewer made the comment that Huntwatch made him feel “inspired.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Too often in this line of work, we can forget about inspiration. We focus on objectives, outcomes, milestones, and indicators. We value the things we can measure, and regularly evaluate our activities to ensure that we are achieving the best impact for animals with our donors’ dollar.  We are motivated: we have a goal, and a plan to achieve it. We are disciplined, and work constantly and relentlessly towards our target. 

But motivation and inspiration are different things.  Inspiration is when an idea takes hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.

And when it came to ending the slaughter of baby seals, Brian Davies was inspired.  Whether learning to fly a helicopter to document the bloodshed on the ice, ambushing and disrupting a Canadian government press conference in Europe, or subtly giving the middle finger to a journalist who refused to research the facts, Brian had the courage of his convictions and acted on whatever moved him. He didn’t worry about what other people thought, or how much money it would cost; he did what he felt was needed to capture the world’s attention on the suffering of the baby seals.

Brian Davies was inspired to make a difference, and in turn has inspired millions – including me.

It is my hope that Huntwatch will inspire all who view it. Whether it inspires you to protect helpless animals, to stop global warming, or to fight social injustices, it doesn’t matter. Whatever your personal passion might be to make the world a better place, Huntwatch will hopefully inspire you to act on it, and in turn inspire others.


Public screenings of Huntwatch are being planned in Canada and around the world in March 2016. Please keep an eye on the blogs and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram  to be kept informed of upcoming dates and locations!

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy