On Saturday, August 20, THE WHALE came out from the shadows into the full light of the start of its theatrical run.
It was a glowing debut. We decided to show it in the Faroe Islands, a beautiful, remote archipelago far out in the Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland, because a group of people there wanted to give the community a different view of whales. The islands have a long tradition of hunting and killing about 800 pilot whales a year, and we were hoping THE WHALE might help them reconsider that hunt. In our view, whales are infinitely more valuable to human beings as friends than as food, and we hoped that the film would help show people why.
There was an excellent crowd in a lovely theater in the capital city of Torshavn. At the end of the film there was rousing applause, and Suzanne was surrounded by adults and children who wanted autographs on postcards of Luna.
After that there was an energetic but cordial debate, punctuated more by laughter than tension, and filmed by Animal Planet. The debate included comments by several whalers, who expressed disagreement about Suzanne’s opposition to the whaling, but nevertheless described THE WHALE as a great film.
The sense we have is of a community that is both bewildered and offended by the international attention that has lately been turned against the traditional hunt. Some Faroese seemed angry at accusations that Faroese are inhumane by killing whales, but people did not seem at all closed-minded.
"I fully believe that THE WHALE premiered in the Faroes at a perfect time," Suzanne said on her way home. "People value their traditions, but there is no question that they seem open to thinking about whales in new ways. One thing was sure. Everyone who saw the film loved meeting and getting to know Luna. I think that is an important thing. People would come up to me after the film, and repeat the movie's tagline: 'Friendship is bigger than we know.'"