Kim Kindersley's quest to find his spiritual roots, while experiencing the extraordinary connection, both ancient and modern, between humans and the cetaceans. The story is told through the return of an aboriginal whale dreaming tribe from the edge of extinction and the long journey of the whales, not only to survive the slaughter by man, but to engage the human race into waking up in time.
Review by Louise Keller:
It is to Julian Lennon's infectious tune Saltwater that the closing credits roll to this passionate documentary that pleads for better understanding between all people. The film has already won acclaim at various festivals around the world and is sure to raise more interest in Australia, whose indigenous people are at its heart. English actor turned filmmaker Kim Kindersley makes his own personal journey through the film as he joins indigenous tribal leaders from around the world in a spiritual gathering with the Aboriginal Mirning tribe. The whale is their symbol of humanity and through rituals around a fire the indigenous elders make their sacred plea. It's a thought provoking film that touches on issues of climate change as well as the killing of whales and includes compelling images of the great mammals themselves as they respond to the calling.
It all began for Kindersley 10 years ago in Ireland when researching his ancestral roots. It was swimming with a dolphin that inspired him to begin his research, followed by a promotional film and an invitation to a whale calling ceremony in South Australia by the Mirning tribe's song man Bunna Lawrie. 'People of the world need to reconnect,' says Lawrie, a sentiment with which few would disagree. How Julian Lennon became involved in the project is not made clear, but there is one intriguing fact that comes to light. After a Tribal Elder presents Lennon with a white feather, we are told according to an extract from Cynthia Lennon's book that John Lennon alerted his son to look for a white feather 'And you'll know I'm there looking out for you.'
Cinematic and often rousing, Whaledreamers will appeal to those who take the changing nature of our world seriously. For Kindersley, the indigenous people at the film's core are perhaps symbolic of the world at large, as they convey their message of love and peace. Actor Jack Thompson pledges his considerable support behind the project not only makes a moving statement at the Byron Bay Film Festival but adds gravitas with his distinctively voiced narration.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is quite an echo of the mood of the 60s in Whaledreamers, in the best possible sense, with peace, love and harmony major themes. A yearning for the world to heal itself, to enjoy the connections between humans and nature - especially whales and dolphins, of course - and an insight into the core of dreaming as an indigenous life experience. Made with the passion of the committed and the sincerity of the believer, Whaledreamers is both an ecological and a spiritual film, urging us to consider the upside of harmony and the downside of ignorance and environmental carelessness. But it also confronts the whale killing tradition in some indigenous communities.
Whales and dolphins swim past the camera and their (usually) silent witness is message enough. Filmmaker Kim Kindersley has invested years of his time and layers of his being in the film, which is both insistent and sincere. Jack Thompson narrates in his wonderful voice, and also lends his persona and his stature to the enterprise. He is not merely mouthing the words, but meaning them.
The film will no doubt preach to the converted, but that's no fault of the filmmakers and their supporters; that's the miserable reality of the way the world is. And it is exactly what the filmmakers intended.
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WHALE DREAMERS (PG)
CAST: Documentary featuring Kim Kindersley, Jack Thompson, Julian Lennon
NARRATION: Jack Thompson
PRODUCER: Julian Lennon, Kim Kindersley
DIRECTOR: Kim Kindersley
SCRIPT: Kim Kindersley
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Dalowitz, Jeff Pantukhoff, Kurt E. Soderling, David Warth
EDITOR: Michael Balson, Constantine Dumba, Mark Law, Chris Lidell
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: EMC2
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: September 18, 2008; Melbourne: September 24, 2008; Other states: tba