THE WHALE, a new documentary about a lonely young killer whale who causes upheaval in a small town and amazement around the world when he tries to make friends with humans, will be released theatrically by Paladin, it was announced by company president, Mark Urman.
THE WHALE was directed by noted journalist Michael Parfit and veteran producer-cinematographer Suzanne Chisholm, who encountered the young orca whale, nicknamed Luna, at the height of his celebrity and spent several years chronicling his adventures both in print and on film.
Ryan Reynolds, who hails from the very region in Western Canada where the story unfolds, narrates the film and served as executive producer, along with Scarlett Johansson and Eric Desatnik. THE WHALE will play its first commercial engagements in late summer and expand in the fall.
Set on the rugged western coast of Vancouver Island, THE WHALE describes what happens when Luna, a baby orca, gets separated from his family and unexpectedly starts making contact with people along a scenic fjord called Nootka Sound. Because orcas are highly social creatures who spend their lives traveling with their pods, Luna attempts to find a surrogate family among the area residents, much to their delight. But as word spreads about Luna, people become torn between their love for the lonely young whale and fears that human contact might harm him.
Luna’s saga is seen through the eyes of the colorful characters who live and work along the Sound and who fall in love with the whale — including a cook on an old freighter, a fisheries officer conflicted by what he thinks Luna needs and what he is told to do, a grandmother who is arrested for petting Luna, and a Native American elder whose tribe believes Luna is the reincarnation of a chief.
The film also describes how Parfit and Chisholm themselves, who first went to Nootka Sound on assignment for Smithsonian, grow so concerned about Luna’s fate that they get involved in trying to help him, crossing the traditional line between journalist and subject and becoming characters in the very story they are telling. Their efforts to find ways to safely give Luna the attention he seems so determined to get are a major part of the film’s climax.
“THE WHALE is a wondrous experience,” said Urman. “It speaks volumes about our complex and ever-changing relationship with nature. Michael and Suzanne have told this story so effectively that, while it has all the power of truth, it also has all the emotion and beauty of a perfect fable.”
“We’re thrilled to be releasing THE WHALE with Paladin,” said producer Chisholm. “The team’s experience and success is extraordinary, and we could not have found a better place for this movie.” Parfit adds: “Working with people like Ryan Reynolds on the narration, and Mark Urman and his team on distribution has been a great example of how collaborative film is. The fact that all of them love Luna as much as we do is wonderful.”
Parfit, an award-winning writer, director, and cinematographer, has authored four books, scripted two Imax films and has written many major articles for National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. A heavily illustrated feature, written by Parfit, about the couple’s adventures with Luna and how they brought the story to the big screen, appears in Smithsonian’s double summer issue, currently on stands. The article is also on the Smithsonian website, here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Luna-A-Whale-to-Watch.html#.
Please visit THE WHALE on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewhalemovie.
THE WHALE deal caps a particularly busy season for Paladin, following the highly successful release of Tom Shadyac’s “I Am,” which has grossed over $1.5 million, making it the highest grossing non-studio, non-3D documentary release of the year. The company launches the award-winning “Love Etc.” on July 1st and recently announced the fall release of Tiffany Shlain’s Sundance favorite, “Connected.” Also opening this summer for the company is Marcus Dean Fuller’s “One Fall,” and coming in autumn is Margaret Whitton’s romantic comedy, “A Bird of the Air.”