Monica speaks to Director Mike Day about his journey and about the passion behind whales and the clash the exists between man and the sea.
Day captures the awesome visual power of the land as sweeping cinematography shows the Faroe Islands shrouded in mist and suspended in time. The film gains impressive access to the community, which proves particularly advantageous for obtaining footage of the whale hunt. The immersive aural tracks let the wind blow and the birds squawk as the film depicts a land worth preserving. The soundtrack affords a sense of being present on the Faroe Islands and right in the thick of the fight. – Point of View Magazine
THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES has its national broadcast premiere on the PBS documentary series POV (Point of View) on Monday, October 9, 2017 (check local listings). POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, now in its 30th season.
About the filmmaker:
Mike Day is a Scottish director and cinematographer. His debut film THE GUGA HUNTERS OF NESS screened on the BBC in 2011 and at festivals internationally. Formerly a lawyer, Mikefounded Intrepid Cinema in 2009 before setting sail into the North Atlantic to document the last Scottish ten seabird hunters on their traditional annual gannet hunt in the Scottish Outer Hebrides. This was the first time since 1959 that the hunters had allowed this tradition to be filmed. After two weeks at sea the crew returned home with a rare glimpse into the world of the Sula Sgeir hunters.
The Islands and the Whales was funded by Sundance Institute, Creative Scotland, The Filmmaker Fund, San Francisco Film Society, Wellcome Trust, Creative Europe, Influence Film Foundation, DR, and the Factum Foundation and the sound post production was at Skywalker Sound.
Mike was listed as one of 10 filmmakers to watch in 2012 by Independent Filmmaker Magazine. He was also one of the EDNs ’12 for the Future’, and attended the 2014 Sundance Fellows program and lab.
Director/Producer: Mike Day
Co-Producer: Stefan Frost, Henrik Underbjerg
Executive Producers: John Atkinson, Niall Christie, Matt Day,
David Eckles, Leslie Finlay, Minette Nelson, Phillip Noran
Editors: Mike Day, Nicole Hálová, Mary Lampson
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In THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES (DOC NYC Grand Jury Prize, Hot Docs Emerging International Filmmaker Award), Scottish filmmaker Mike Day lets his camera swoop down on the majestic beauty of the emerald green, rocky North Atlantic Faroe Islands, where its people have survived on pilot whales and seabirds for centuries. The whales are plentiful, far from extinct, but they are sadly poisoned by pollutants. As a result local children are showing high levels of mercury, while international anti-whaling activists are imploring – even threatening – the locals to find alternatives.
While hunting whales and seabirds kept them alive for generations, local professor Dr. Pal Weihe makes a grim discovery about the effects of marine pollution. He takes on the onerous task of asking his fellow Islanders to change not just a tradition, but a way of life. The same global environmental forces that have brought the devastating pollutants have also brought the fiercest interventionists. What happens when fishermen spears come up against an internationally funded activist vessel becomes a precursor for an even more troubling confrontation.
Day came upon the Faroe Islands while shooting his previous film THE GUGA HUNTERS OF NESS (2011), a BBC documentary about a Scottish island community embarking on their epic annual seabird hunt in the treacherous North Atlantic. Like the Faroese, the hunting practices of the Ness community are deeply rooted in their society and culture.
With a keen eye for the natural beauty on these remote islands and a deep respect for their traditions, Day zooms in on climate change and pollution, which the islanders in both films find themselves battling in ways that people on the mainland are not yet forced to.