Local Filmmaker To Screen Whales Films

November 29, 2023 | 0 Comments

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Whale researcher Andrew Stevenson will screen his two award-winning documentaries, ‘Where the Whales Sing’ and ‘The Secret Lives of the Humpbacks’ at the Speciality Cinema and Grill in Hamilton on Monday [December 4].

It will be the first time both documentaries are screened back-to-back, starting at 6.30 pm, with a 15-minute break between the two films.

Mr Stevenson’s first documentary, ‘Where the Whales Sing’, completed in 2010, won numerous awards, including Best Underwater Filmmaker at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in Monterrey, California.

It has been subtitled or dubbed in Spanish, Italian, Korean, Persian and Czechoslovakian, and also won the prestigious $10,000 Masterworks/Charman Art Prize.

Meanwhile, ‘The Secret Lives of the Humpbacks’, a character-driven nature documentary based on 15 years of visual insights into the mid-ocean social lives of the North Atlantic humpback whales, was completed in 2019.

It has been subtitled in French and won film festival awards, including Best Ocean Films at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York in 2019 and the Audience Choice Award at the Festival International du Documentaire Maritime in France last year.

Both documentaries have been produced, directed, filmed, written and edited by Mr Stevenson.

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His daughter, Elsa, narrated the first documentary at age six and co-narrated the second nine years later, along with her sister, Somers Stevenson, who is five years younger.

“I think having both films narrated by kids gives us hope for the next generation,” Mr Stevenson told Bernews.

“I’ve shown the films at BUEI [the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute] and local schools, and whenever I watch the audience, especially the kids, they’re transfixed when listening to kids narrate a film.

“When they hear my adult voice narrate, you can see them looking around, picking their noses or whatever!

“Hearing a child’s voice, especially for a child, is really compelling.”

Since becoming passionate about humpbacks in 2007, Mr Stevenson has identified more than 2,000 of them in Bermuda waters.

When he decided to make his first documentary, he had no experience with underwater video cameras or humpbacks.

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“I tend to be very self-critical, and I’m not really aware of what I’ve managed to achieve until people tell me,” Mr Stevenson said.

“They say, ‘You managed to do this on your own, without any training as a filmmaker’. I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, maybe it is an achievement’.

“It gives me enormous satisfaction when I show the documentaries to people. The films really are a labour of love.”

Mr Stevenson was inspired to devote his energy to discovering more about the secret lives of the marine mammals after an up-close encounter with a humpback whale off Great Bay Beach 16 years ago.

“I was working on the beach with Elsa when a whale breached the right of the breaker,” said Mr Stevenson, who has a research permit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment.

“Elsa asked me many questions about humpback whales, so we went back to the cottage, and I did some research and realised I was sitting on an absolute goldmine.

“Although I knew nothing about marine biology, I saw that Bermuda was the only platform providing a window into the pelagic mid-ocean lives of the humpbacks.”

For tickets, visit www.specialitycinema.bm

Website: www.whalesbermuda.com

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