The Whale

Canada 2011. Dirs: Suzanne Chisholm, Michael Parfit. 85 min. HDCAM

FILMMAKERS IN ATTENDANCE! A family-oriented animal documentary that doesn’t skimp on the big, philosophical issues posed by its subject, The Whale traces the remarkable, real-life tale of an orphaned orca who befriends a small, seaside community off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Narrated and co-produced by B.C.’s own Ryan Reynolds, the film — a reworking of the earlier doc, Saving Luna — offers a compassionate, even-handed look at the thorny situation that arose in Nootka Sound when a two-year-old “killer whale,” nicknamed Luna, sought human companionship after being separated from his pod. All want what’s best for Luna, but what is best for Luna? Disagreement over that central question becomes a cause célèbre when the feds enact a relocation plan, objected to by the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation of Nootka Sound, who believe Luna is a reincarnated band chief. “Thoughtful and moving ... An engaging contribution to our evolving understanding of other species' emotional lives” (Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times).

Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit, co-directors of The Whale, will join us in person to introduce the film and answer audience questions after the screening.


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Hosted by Vancouver film history teacher and critic Michael van den Bos.



NYT Critic’s Pick | “A documentary ideal for schoolrooms, family viewing, and discussion … The issues surrounding the emotional lives of animals are explored with a quiet dignity and gorgeous images.”

New York Times | full review

“Serious-minded, thought-provoking … Leaves the well-developed questions of human-animal interrelations full of nuance and uncertainty.”

Hollywood Reporter | full review