by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Causes, Film/TV
Tags: , , , .
Photo: Leah Lemieux

On Saturday the new documentary ‘The Whale,’ a film about an orphaned orca named Luna looking for human friendship, premiered in the capital of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn.

Why not L.A.? N.Y.? A place where celebrities could line up on the red carpet to show their support? The film is narrated by Ryan Reynolds and has Scarlet Johansson as an executive producer so they’re not exactly lacking star power.

Turns out it was a decision to further the cause. The Faroe Islands are known for their annual pilot whale hunt. About 800 pilot whales are killed each year for food, even though the Islands’ medical officers have warned that the whale meat contains dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs and DDT residues. However, at this point, the hunt is still considered to have cultural significance. The Faroese Animal Protection Organization invited ‘The Whale’ to premiere on the island to bring more attention to the issue.

Ecorazzi has been in touch with the co-directors of the film and they offered us this exclusive take on how the film was received. (Stay tuned for early next month when we’ll have an exclusive interview with the film’s directors Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm!)

Ady Gil, Suzanne Chisholm & Runi Nielsen at the Premiere

Suzanne Chisholm, the co-director of the film, told us about the premiere, “I had no idea what to expect – there’s a lot of tension here over the issue of the pilot whale hunts. Sea Shepherd ships are patrolling the shores, and nobody likes being told what to do by foreigners. But here I was, a foreigner, premiering a film which shows a whale as a friend, not food.”

Chisholm went on to say about the success of the event, “But there was a great crowd, and they applauded loudly, and then a bunch of kids and adults came up afterward for autographs and Luna postcards. It really did feel like a world premiere. They loved it. And they loved Luna. Maybe that’s because THE WHALE doesn’t tell you what to do. It just tells a story about the strongest of emotions, about friendship across boundaries. So maybe what we were doing in the Faroes was connecting heart to heart instead of shout to shout.”

Even more publicity is on its way to the Faroe Islands. Animal Planet has announced a spinoff of ‘Whale Wars’ that will follow how this controversial issue develops. Let’s hope that the premiere is just the first step of many to a new nonviolent relationship with whales in the Faroes.

‘The Whale’ premieres in the USA on September 9th in Seattle. Take it from a girl who was lucky enough to see it early, you’re going to want to watch this film. See the trailer here.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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  • Gary Ploski

    That’s a really clever way of premiering a film. Sure it doesn’t get the Hollywood treatment but there are people who can affect change who have seen a film about a whale who wanted to be friend with humans. HFCIT!

    I look forward to the interview with the filmmakers.

  • Anouk de Winter

    Bravo !! this is the first positive result in Faroe Island and the most important step to raise awaireness about the grinds. Keep it up, no matter what the world will say : thanks to real compassionate people like Ady Gill and the producers team one big step has been made.. No need for “pirat ship” to tell the Faroe Island people what to do. It was time the world understood that the only way to raise awaireness is to connect heart to heart instead of shout to shout and instead of putting peple down. THANK YOU to the Faroese Animal Protection Organization.

  • Username required

    Looking back in history at all the other notable emancipation causes, it appears human beings are so dumb, and become obstinately entrenched in their ignorance, that we need the two opposing approaches to make things work.

    Even the “pirates” in this particular game are motivated by compassion for other living creatures. The discussion would not be happening with them, and if they can shut down a little suffering or environmental abuse by being upfront, then good on them.

    All this talk about “tradition”, whether from the Faroese or Japanese whales is BS. Everyone smells it. No one believes.

    There is nothing to understand about it … a conscienceless throwback to a more cruel age is still a throwback and ought to be reminded of it until they change.

    We don’t allow our kids to torture puppies, they shouldn’t be encouraged to machete harmless, defenceless animals.