Friday Fliks: Phinfest Special Edition

Film: Breaking Through The Clouds

The Cast:

  • Christina Nicholls – Lolita
  • Nathaly Lauren – Lolita’s Mother

“My family faded away once more and I cried, why must life be destroyed by the merciless hands of time?” 

Lolita and her mother singing. Picture by Natica Nutella and Zach Affolter.
Lolita and her mother singing. Picture by Nathaly Lauren and Zach Affolter.

Zach Affolter’s short film “Breaking through the Clouds”  is based on the true story of Tokitae (a.k.a Lolita), a killer whale who was forced from her family into the life of captivity at Miami Seaquarium. The film tells about how she lived happily with her family, L-Pod in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island – It also explains how she was cruelly ripped from her native waters and loving family fifty years ago (8/08/70) to be placed in a shallow, illegally small tank at the marine park. Originally, she had a podmate named Hugo who died an untimely death from a brain aneurysm after bashing his head against the tank;  now she lives only amongst White-Sided Dolphins who perform with her in the Killer Whale & Dolphin Show.  She has been dubbed “The World’s Lonliest Orca” as she has not seen another killer whale since Hugo’s fatal demise.


Tokitae’s story is not new and is probably one of the most well-known among advocates next to Tilikum’s, but the extraordinary performance of  the cast is not the only element that makes this film stand out from others. It is probably the best film to capture the true perspective of captivity and the fear that these whales suffer.  What makes this movie truly beautiful, is the perspective that it was put in: Lolita’s.  Giving you the sounds, sights and memories that she sees as she circles her tank in boredom and heartbreak. The entire movie is shot in a mix of color except for her memories, which are grainy sepia or crisp black and white.  What did her mother say as her daughter was torn away? What memories are permanently evoked in Tokitae’s mind? These are the questions that audiences can expect to ask while watching the film  and it’s truly one to pull the heartstrings. Her story is a symbol of the plight that many Orcas suffer in the shadows, unnoticed.

This film was premiered at the 2015 Phinfest and is now available on Youtube to be enjoyed by all ages. You may watch the film, here:


For more information on this film, click here:

For more artwork by Nathaly Lauren, click the links below:


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