Luke Clellan Dellorso
Over the weekend, I screened The Islands and The Whales, which is a spotlight on the Faroe people on the Islands of Faroe, which are a self-governing archipelago and part of Denmark.
Descendants of Vikings, the Faroe people have been fishing since they can remember, but their way of life is being threatened. Not only is mercury accumulating up the food change and present in high amounts in the pilot whales that they eat, the Faroe people are also receiving backlash from animal rights activists and environmentalists. The outstanding question seems to be, is this lifestyle sustainable?
The Faroe people have over-hunted puffins and there is the threat of doing so with other populations. In addition to this, there is concern for the health of the Faroe people, as many of them have dangerously high levels of mercury in their blood, as a result of the whale meat and blubber that they eat.
If this was not enough for the Faroe people to address, they were visited in the film by the marine conservation organization, Sea Shepherd, who attempted to stop their whaling practices. The battle that they were fighting was that of, “We have infertile land and need to fish to sustain our lifestyle, rather than importing foreign food. So what do you want us to do?” In addition to this, the Faroe people have been living off of the sea and the sea birds for years and years and they are not willing to just up and leave the practices that they are familiar with. How can you tell someone to completely change their way of life– a way of life that their ancestors have practiced for hundreds of years?
The film did a beautiful job of not putting the issue in a way that overburdened the audience or made them feel overly guilty. It also did not propose a solution, but rather brought light to the issues and through doing so, I felt that they were able to reach their audience very well. The film also received an Honorable Mention Award, for the documentary feature category at the River Run International Film Festival in Winston-Salem!