Scars of Freedom: Six Minutes that Can Inspire Change

Celine Cousteau's Scars of Freedom

Céline Cousteau films and assists the rescue of an entangled Humpback whale off the coast of Chile. Photo: © Çapkin van Alphen

In 2012, I was working with a film crew in Chile on a 12-part broadcast series of true stories of the ocean.  Between dives, we heard a report from local fishermen of an entangled whale nearby.  It was an incredible coincidence that we happened to be only 500 meters away. Despite being untrained for such a rescue mission, we set off to help, and recorded the amazing footage that eventually became an emotive short film which we titled Scars of Freedom.

Produced by myself with support from The TreadRight Foundation, this short film is set off the coast of Chile’s Juan Fernandez Archipelago and tells a succinct, powerful tale of the effects of human negligence on the world’s oceans and the incredible power of human compassion.

After its debut at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in 2012, Scars of Freedom won the Animal Award at the Cinema Verde Film Festival, was an official selection at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival, Colorado Environmental Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival and San Francisco Green Film Festival. Scars of Freedom is currently finishing its 2013 tour with the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

The film’s power lies in its juxtaposition of trauma with peaceful beauty, and its environmental message is delivered with the kind of stunning simplicity that packs a weighty punch.  An entangled humpback whale left for dead; a fishing net, her anvil. A net, estimated to weigh 250 kilograms, had cut halfway through one side of her tail.  Beautiful images of humpbacks swimming through the protected waters off Hawaii contrast to the trauma of this story, concluding with a powerful statement: ‘Change begins with the heart.’

It’s a message that is even more powerful because the plight of the young whale could easily have been overlooked.

Please enjoy the video below.

Merci and à bientôt,



©2015 CauseCentric Productions