The Islands and the Whales

Mike Day

United Kingdom, Denmark 2016, 82 min.


Spoken language: English, Danish, Faroese

Subtitles: Dutch, English

Festival year: 2017

Not much grows on the rocky hills of the stunning Faroe Islands between Iceland and Norway. The indigenous population has been living off whale meat and sea birds for centuries. Serious pollution now endangers their way of life. Whales are full of mercury, birds are filled with plastic, and whaling has become the object of criticism.


The remote Faroe archipelago is a magical location, with dark islands behind thick layers of mist. The indigenous population has been living in harmony with nature for centuries. Their traditional diet consists of sea birds, such as the lovely puffin, and other sea life, including the equally endearing pilot whale, that looks like a dolphin. Fathers teach their sons to catch birds from an early age. Traditionally, sailing out to hunt whales is a major event in which the entire community participates.

But this way of life is threatened. Local toxicologist Pal Weihe has discovered that the mercury in whale meat seriously affects human health and child development. Birds increasingly swallow small pieces of plastic, and the ocean’s pollution has caused a sharp decline in the number of puffins nesting on the islands. And then there is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Island dwellers watch with sadness as its activists moor their vessel to go ashore, equipped with pirate flags and former beach babe Pamela Anderson as their figurehead. ‘We have had bad experiences with pirates…’ recalls one of the elderly people.

At a press conference of the well-meaning environmental activist group, a worried island dweller asks where they have to get their food from, since nothing grows on the islands. ‘If you give us a cow to eat, will you leave us alone?’ But that question finds no echo, as Sea Shepherd is only concerned with sea life.

Text: Annika Wubbolt

Official website:



Intrepid Cinema

Dutch distribution:



World sales:

Ro*co Films International


Talkshows & debates

The Islands and the Whales: Q&A with Diederik Samsom

Saturday, March 25, 2017 - 18:45

Q&A with former leader of the PvdA, Diederik Samsom.


Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 15:30

Talk show moderated by Isolde Hallensleben with Donald Pols (director Milieudefensie), Mutang Urud (The Borneo Case) Wietse van der Werf (Sea Rangers) and Liesbeth van Tongeren

The Island and the Whales: Q&A with Wietse van der Werf

Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 13:45

Q&A with conservationist Wietse van der Werf.