Monday, October 08, 2007

A film about Luna

-- by Dave

Another film that's now on my must-see list (if and when it makes it to area theaters): Saving Luna, the documentary by Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm, who spent a couple of years in Nootka Sound hanging out, observing and filming Luna, the young killer whale from the Puget Sound's K pod, separated from his family, who was tragically killed in a boating accident last year.

The film just won the top prize in the "people and animals category" at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which is more or less the Cannes of this kind of filmmaking.

I've seen snippets of the film when Parfit and Chisholm put on a speaking appearance on Whidbey Island a few years back. I mentioned some of these scenes when I wrote about Luna's death:
Parfit and Chisholm had filmed Luna's odyssey with the tribal canoes away from the DFO capture team, and it was really rather remarkable to watch how closely the orca seemed to bond with the tribe. At a couple of junctures in the drama, Luna actually was within the capture area, and on both occasions he decided to return to his friends in the canoes. He traveled with them some 20 kilometers away to the site of their original village, and some of their interactions en route were something to behold.

So was some of the other footage that Parfit and Chisholm had collected. The one that really struck me involved some of his boat nudging; at one point, they caught Luna rising to the surface and pushing a small outboard boat at its transom, right next to the motor, which was turned off.

As he nudged the skiff forward, he began making a noise through his blowhole -- PBBBBBTTTTTTTTTT -- that almost perfectly replicated the sound of an outboard engine. It was simultaneously charming and disturbing, like watching a little kid who had a preternatural fascination with heavy equipment climbing aboard a bulldozer and firing it up.

Parfit later wrote a remarkable piece after Luna's death about the eagerness to lay blame in the wake of the whale's death.

Now if they can just convince a Seattle theater to show it.

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