July 11, 2019, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Outside the Box [Office] and National Geographic invite you and a guest to attend a special advance screening of

Sea of Shadows

Directed by Richard Ladkani
Produced by Wolfgang Knöpfler and Walter Köhler

Followed by a Q&A with Richard Ladkani, Walter Köhler,
Andrea Crosta, Dr. Cynthia Smith, and Jack Hutton

7:00 P.M. on Thursday, July 11th, 2019

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007



Winner: Audience Award - World Cinema Documentary
Sundance Film Festival 2019

In Theaters on Friday, July 12th, 2019

About Sea of Shadows

In Sea of Shadows, a looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in this riveting feature length documentary-thriller. In Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, a group of brilliant scientists, high-tech activists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents attempt to rescue the most endangered and elusive whale on Earth, the vaquita, while battling the vicious Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers whose destructive poaching methods are threatening the region’s marine life. Less than 15 vaquita remain in the wild, and without a massive intervention, they will disappear from the planet within the next 12 months.

Provided courtesy of National Geographic. Not rated. Running time: 104 minutes.

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About the Guests

RICHARD LADKANI (director and cinematographer) has gained international recognition for his award-winning feature documentaries.

His 2016 Netflix original documentary, “The Ivory Game,” executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, produced by Walter Köhler and co-directed by Kief Davidson, was shortlisted for an Academy Award. An investigative docu-thriller about the illegal ivory trade and the threat of elephant extinction, the movie premiered at the Telluride and Toronto International Film festivals and won multiple international awards.

In early 2015 Ladkani and his wife, Anita, founded Malaika Pictures to produce films that shine a spotlight on the most pressing environmental and political issues facing the world today. They are currently developing a scripted feature film based on the bestselling book “City of Thorns,” chronicling the desperation of life in Dadaab, Kenya, the site of the largest refugee camp in the world, which houses nearly a quarter of a million Somali refugees and asylum seekers.

Among Ladkani’s most renowned films are “Escape Over the Himalayas,” about the plight of Tibetan children fleeing their homeland; “The Devil’s Miner,” a harrowing look at Bolivian silver mines that won 22 awards; “Jane’s Journey,” a portrait of conservationist Jane Goodall that was shortlisted for an Academy Award; “Vatican: The Hidden World”; and “Gas Monopoly,” a political docu-thriller about Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Ladkani gained most of his early experience in New York City, where he lived for more than six years before moving back to Europe. His signature “you-are-there” approach to filmmaking gives audiences an immediate and visceral connection to his subjects.

Ladkani has taught filmmaking workshops at prestigious film schools and served on international film festival juries. He lives near Vienna, Austria, with his wife and two daughters.

WALTER KÖHLER (producer, founder and CEO of TERRA MATER Factual Studios) has had more than 30 successful years in the nonfiction and narrative film business. In the 1990s, he created the Natural History Unit of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and made it one of the leading brands in factual television worldwide. He also helped nature to re-conquer the big screen with in involvement in the BBC features “Deep Blue” (2003) and “Earth” (2007). For these reasons, a BBC colleague once called Köhler an “industry legend.”

In 2011, Köhler launched his production company TERRA MATER Factual Studios, and since then, he has gained international recognition with more than 230 international film awards, including an Emmy award, several Panda Awards at Wildscreen, and Grand Teton Awards at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

Köhler’s last industry coup was for his film “The Ivory Game,” which was recognized on the Academy Award Best Documentary Feature shortlist. The thrilling feature documentary about the illegal ivory trade premiered in 2016 as a Netflix original film. “The Ivory Game” not only was a huge success in the film business, but helped save the elephant population when the Chinese government banned ivory trade two months after its release.

With SEA OF SHADOWS, Köhler continues to strengthen this integral part of TERRA MATER Factual Studios’ vision by producing films that show a unique and very fragile part of Mother Earth and help bring about change.

ANDREA CROSTA (executive director and co-founder of Earth League International) is relentless in his mission to protect wildlife through undercover investigations around the world. His organization, Earth League International , currently comprises 12 international teams on three continents. His team of undercover investigators is extremely efficient and includes many operatives from China — the country where most of the illegal products are being shipped — but also former FBI and CIA operatives who have dedicated their lives to saving our planet’s wildlife. His investigation of the syndicates behind the totoaba trade started back in 2016, and a preliminary report into the Chinese trade was released in the summer of 2017. The investigation depicted in SEA OF SHADOWS targets Chinese traders in Mexico, and because it also involves the drug cartels, it is one of the most dangerous he has ever conducted.

DR. CYNTHIA SMITH (program manager, Vaquita CPR) is program manager of the Vaquita CPR conservation project. Her background as lead veterinarian for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill marine mammal health assessment and a senior veterinarian for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program makes her the perfect fit to lead the team of 90 scientists to search for and rescue the vaquitas.

Smith is also the executive director of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, one of the key organizations of Vaquita CPR. Her role in the rescue mission is essential to the success of the program. No decision is made without her approval, making her a central character in the film. She was asked to lead the Mexican government-led rescue mission by “Mr. Vaquita” himself, Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, who, as director of marine mammal research at the Mexican Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, is the world’s leading vaquita expert.

JACK HUTTON (drone operator for Sea Shepherd) joined Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro in the Sea of Cortez as first officer to help save the “aquarium of the world” and the vaquita porpoise from imminent extinction. His biggest idol is Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Just 21, Hutton brings a unique skill set to this operation: He is a master drone pilot. A key instrument in this mission, aerial reconnaissance enables Sea Shepherd to locate poachers and ghost nets, even at night. Whenever illegal activities are detected, Sea Shepherd moves in to chase off poachers and pull their nets from the ocean before any damage can be done. This has made Sea Shepherd many enemies in the upper Sea of Cortez, which is why it now operates under the protection of the Mexican Navy. Despite multiple armed attacks on Sea Shepherd vessels and the shooting down of their drone, Hutton remains eager to keep on fighting against the destruction of the vaquitas and the Sea of Cortez ecosystem.

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

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Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at the USC Royal Street Entrance, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & Royal Street. We recommend the USC Royal Street Structure, at the far end of 34th Street. Limited street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago