Bluefin: The Last of the Giants

Bluefin is a tale of epic stakes set in “the tuna capital of the world,” North Lake, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Director John Hopkins explores the mystery of why normally wary bluefin tuna no longer fear humans. Tuna are so abundant now that they will precariously eat out of fishermen’s hands. One thing is certain, this sudden abundance of tuna in Canada flies in the face of scientific assessments that stocks are critically down by 90 percent.

This is a story about an extraordinary species caught between the addictive thrill of the hunt and our fear of their extinction. With stunning cinematography, Director/DP John Hopkins brings all into sharp focus.

  • John Hopkins
    Timepiece (short doc), Portfolio (short drama), Johnston...Johnston (short drama)
  • John Hopkins
  • Annette Clarke, Ravida Din
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Thon Rouge
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Social Justice, Environmental, Wildlife, Oceans, Food, Sustainable, Fisheries, Fishing, Sushi, nature, science
  • Runtime:
    53 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    560,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    ProRes HQ
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Raindance Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 17, 2017
    European Premiere
    Nominated Best Feature Documentary
  • San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    March 11, 2017
    The Wildlife Award
  • Lunenburg DocFest
    September 23, 2016
    Best Atlantic Filmmaker Award
  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival
    Santa Barbara
    United States
    February 5, 2017
    US Premiere
    Nominated Best Film: Social Justice Competition
  • California Film Awards
    San Diego
    United States
    January 8, 2017
    Grand Winner: Best Feature Documentary
  • Yorkton Film Festival
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • Devour! Film Festival
    November 5, 2016
  • Available Light Festival
    February 10, 2017
    Northern Canada
  • Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    September 24, 2017
  • PEI Fim Festival
  • Saltspring Island Film Festival
    Encore Screening - Audience Award
  • Friday Harbour
    Friday Harbour
    United States
  • Charlottetown Film Festival
  • Bellville Film Festival
  • Guelph Film Festival
    November 11, 2017
  • Red Rock Film Festival
    Cedar City
    United States
    November 11, 2017
  • Hot Docs: Films Changing the World
    December 19, 2017
  • New Jersey Film Festival
    New Brunswick
    United States
    February 9, 2018
    New Jersey
  • Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
    United States
    February 18, 2018
    Montana Premiere
  • Atlantic Film Festival - FIN
    September 11, 2016
    World Premiere
  • Open World Toronto Film Festival
    October 18, 2018
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • Global Climate Change Conference
    San Francisco
    United States
    September 13, 2018
  • Film Festival at Brown Point
    United States
    August 2, 2019
    Friday Night Award Winner
Distribution Information
  • National Film Board of Canada (Canada)
    Country: Canada
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Hotel, Airline, Video / Disc
  • Gravitas Ventures (International)
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - John Hopkins

Writer/Director/DP John Hopkins debut feature documentary BLUEFIN, produced by the NFB, is garnering international recognition winning: the Grand Award for “Best Documentary” at the 2017 California Awards, the 2017 San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival “Wildlife Award” and 2016 Lunenburg “Best Atlantic Filmmaker Award.” Out of 10,000 submissions Bluefin was Nominated for Best Feature Documentary at 2017 Raindance Film Festival and screened in Competition at the prestigious 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Social Justice Category. Other 2017 Nominations for Best Documentary include a Golden Sheaf at York and the Toronto Open Worldwide Open Film Festival. Bluefin is being distributed by the NFB and internationally by Gravitas Ventures. Previous to Bluefin, Hopkins directed and shot hid short documentary Timepiece (2010), profiling the artwork of his mother Hilda Woolnough RCA.

As a cinematographer, Hopkins has shot many doc projects including the feature doc Kitchen Goddess (NFB) and Tops and Bottoms (TVO/Arte). His cinematography (shared credit) for the genie award-winning feature doc In The Gutter and Other Good Places won Best Cinematography at Hot Docs (1993). John Hopkins' camera contributions recently helped the 3D/4K dramatic feature Forty Below win the 2016 coveted Lumiere Award in Hollywood. From the start of his filmmaking career, Hopkins gained recognition. His first short film Portfolio (1989) which he shot with a 16mm Bolex won Best Film, Best Director, Writer, Score and Editing at the Atlantic Film Festival. Currently, he is developing a new documentary for CBC’s Nature of Things which he will also shoot and direct.

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Director Statement

Much to their peril, these magnificent creatures just do not have the same "cuddle" factor we have given land-based animals such as lions, giraffes, and panda bears, or sea mammals like seals, whales and dolphins. Bluefin are not well understood, but are the most magnificent and powerful fish on the planet. We are wired to think of them as "food," not extraordinary "wildlife."

In making my film, my goal was to find a way to shoot the tuna in a truly unique and powerful way, so we can finally “see them.” I want audiences to feel a long over-due empathy for these extraordinary giants. My cinematographic idea was to let them speak for themselves by their sheer monumental presence swimming alive in the ocean. I wanted my doc Bluefin to be emotional and accessible for broad audiences. Some people have cried near the end of the film. Others swear they will never eat sushi again. I wanted to allow audiences to access these critical issues without being didactic, over-bearing, or boring. Bluefin is a metaphorical story about humankind’s contempt and all too common ignorance of ocean wildlife. I want my doc to urge people change what we think about ourselves in a social sense. We need to recognize that when it comes to commercial fishing in open ocean, with its natural regenerative cycles and balance, we have become a terribly evasive species. Too often we are driven by short-term greed over what makes sense for our own future and the planet's.