Set in the picturesque Great Bear Rainforest region of British Columbia in Canada, this 101-minute documentary follows the work of two whale researchers (Janie Wray and Hermann Meuter) who monitor and record whale sightings and song (sonars) in the Gitga'at First Nations territory.
In 2016, the Gitga'at First Nations successfully won a ten-year legal battle against the Canadian Government to ban crude oil mining and frigates from this area. However, liquid gas investors are expected to move in to replace the oil mining industry soon.
Whale researcher Janie Wray
While this small community needs jobs to keep the economy turning, the threat to humpback whales who regularly visit and breach in the area is very real. The Gitga'at First Nations and the whales are kept central to the narrative of the film, which maintains its authenticity. The film includes interviews with First Nations elders about the significance of the whales to their community and the impact of the mining industry on their culture.
Janie Wray conducts land research of humpback whale behaviour
The slowness of the film takes a little while to get used too, but eventually, you synchronise with the rhythm of the whales as they enter and play in this pristine environment. There is fantastic close-up footage of these gracious creatures, and you can understand the dedication of Wray and Meuter to continue their research, despite the challenges which come with working in a remote region, whilst upholding conservation principles against the lure of the corporate dollar.
The Transitions Film Festival runs from Thursday 20 February until 6 March in Melbourne at Cinema Nova in Carlton, Siteworks in Brunswick, Loop Project Space and Bar, The Astor Theatre in St Kilda and the Brunswick Mechanics Institute. All films are only shown once during this festival, so be sure to grab your tickets early to avoid disappointment.