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Monday, June 09, 2008

SIFF SIGHTING: SAVING LUNA (documentary; Canada)

You don't have to be a whale-lover to be significantly moved by the documentary SAVING LUNA.

Married journalists Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit tell of their journey reporting on a curious situation that began in 2001 in Vancouver Island.

A baby orca from the L-pod named Luna separated from her family in the San Juan Islands of Washington state shortly after birth and traveled to Nootka Sound in Canada. As it is highly out of character for whales to isolate themselves, this action seriously concerned local fish and wildlife authorities and scientists.

Even more stunning was the apparent thirst for human attention that Luna craved, constantly swimming near boats and "talking" with fisherman and dock workers.

The townspeople quickly fell in love with the orca and adopted him as a nearly domesticated pet--until the authorities intervened and forbid humans to make contact with him (even fining folks who broke the rules $100). This was devastating and counterintuitive to many and a battle soon ensued between the native people of the area, the observers who liked Luna's company and the Canadian Fish and Wildlife organization that was going to attempt to reunite him with his pod by way of nets and cars.

I won't say more than that, as it would spoil the ending, but I will say that this superb film was crafted with such humor and compassion that anyone who doesn't have an emotional reaction to it upon viewing it has to be heartless.

The personality and intelligence of the orca made me want to pack up my things and move to a remote beach where my best friends would only be whales.

They're much more appealing than many of the humans that I've encountered.

SAVING LUNA screened at the 34th Annual Seattle International Film Festival and will next be shown at the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival in California.


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