FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, August 16, 2011 – In a surprising turn in the global fight over the killing of whales, normally fought at sea or in political conference rooms, THE WHALE, a new Ryan Reynolds-narrated documentary about the friendship between humans and a wild orca, will have its world premiere in one of the oldest active whaling communities on the planet, the Faroe Islands, on August 20 in the Islands’ capital city of Tórshavn. It will then be distributed theatrically in the US by Paladin in September.
“We could either have a red-carpet premiere with celebrities at a theater in LA, or we could do something specific to help whales,” said Suzanne Chisholm, the film’s producer and co-director, who will be in attendance at the premiere on behalf of the film. “So when people in the Faroes invited us because they love what this story means, we jumped at the chance.”
The spectacular and remote Faroe Islands archipelago is a self-governing territory of Denmark, located between Scotland and Iceland. The Islands’ traditional pilot whale hunts have recently become the focus of international opposition to whaling. This opposition has dramatically increased this summer with the arrival of an activist ship and television crews.
“Having the world premiere of THE WHALE here will hopefully inspire people, enlighten everyone, raise awareness and increase the understanding of animals,” says Rúni Nielsen, a member of the board of the Faroese Animal Protection Organization, which invited THE WHALE. “The film is a very positive story about a whale. We agree with the theme of the film, that ‘Friendship is bigger than we know.’”
The Faroese Animal Protection Organization protects pets, wildlife, farm, and work animals on the islands.
“I would like to express my deep appreciation to the people of the Faroe Islands who have welcomed us to their country,” said Ady Gil, founder of Ady Gil World Conservation, a sponsor of the event. “They are giving us the opportunity to show the other side of whales, and how compassion can be built between humans and other species.”
“This shows a terrific open-mindedness to new ideas about who whales are and how to respect them,” Chisholm said. “We’re delighted to recognize the open hearts of Faroe Islanders by having the world premiere of The Whale in a place where, in fact, many people think whales are more valuable as friends than as food.”
The film, which rolls out in US theatres starting September 9, tells the astonishing story of what happened in a remote fjord in British Columbia when a young killer whale, nicknamed Luna, lost his family and tried to make social contact with people.
Ric O’Barry, the star of the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove,” describes THE WHALE as “an important film, but it’s also funny and moving and unforgettable. Everyone should see this movie.”
The film is narrated by actor Ryan Reynolds, star of “The Proposal,” “Green Lantern,” and “The Change-Up.” It is executive produced by Ryan Reynolds, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Desatnik, and is distributed by Paladin. Suzanne Chisholm and her husband, Michael Parfit, author of many Smithsonian and National Geographic magazine articles, co-directed the movie.
Hunting pilot whales and other marine mammals is an ancient tradition for the Faroese. Today, on average, 800 pilot whales are taken in the islands every year. The whales are used for food, but in 2008 the Islands’ medical officers announced that the whales’ flesh contained dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs, and DDT residues. However, the hunt continues because of its traditional cultural importance.
Protests against the hunt have increased, and this year outside opposition has been highly organized. Animal Planet has announced that a spinoff to its highly-successful Whale Wars series will focus on the Faroe Islands controversy.
Chisholm, who will attend the world premiere, said she has always seen the Faroes as a special place, and is proud to be visiting with the film. “The Faroese are facing a tough dilemma,” she says, “How to honor long traditions while adapting to meet the needs of the future. We can think of no better way to show respect for the hard choices faced by these strong northern people than to give them the chance to meet the whale we knew as a friend.
“As the film points out,” Chisholm continues, “contacts with whales who choose to meet with us are probably as close as we can get on Earth to meeting intelligent extraterrestrials. I’m sure the Faroese already know more about the pilot whales here than anyone else on earth, and if they could adjust from killing them to showing all of us how to learn from them, a whole world of scientists and those who love animals would set sail for their shores.”
Pilot whales, like killer whales, are large dolphins. This puts them in the sub-order of whales known as odontoceti, or “toothed whales,” which also include sperm whales, beluga whales, narwhals, dolphins, and porpoises. They are known to have large brains, complex intelligence, culture, and intricate social lives.
For more information about the documentary, please visit http://www.thewhalemovie.com or http://www.facebook.com/thewhalemovie.com.
For more information about the Faroe Islands, please visit http://www.faroeislands.com/.
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