Nick & Cheryl Dean, Directors
Silver Winner of 2021 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards
A detective story spanning 60 years and half the globe, The Witness Is a Whale documents the uncovering of a massive illegal and secret slaughter of over 200,000 whales by the Soviet Union and Japan in the 1960’s, an act described by scientists as “one of the greatest environmental crimes of the 20th century.” Using interviews with Soviet era whaling scientists, whalers, and contemporary conservation biologists from around the world, along with personal archival material, the film tells this story for the first time. What starts as an exposure of Soviet illegal whaling leads into a larger and darker story, as former Soviet whalers accuse Japan of also secretly killing whales, an act that Japan has never confessed to, even now as they reinstate commercial whaling. The impact has been severe.However, the film also recounts the post-whaling recovery of many different whale species and highlights their overall importance to the health of our oceans.
Released in 2021
Running time: 52 minutes
FHFF Film Category: Things to Consider
FHFF Film Sponsor: Wild Orca
Friday, October 21 - 10:15 AM
Saturday, October 22, 1:00 PM
FILMMAKER ATTENDANCE: Via Livestream
Directors Nick and Cheryl Dean will join us on Friday via live stream on the big screen directly following the Friday screening for a Q&A. A recording of the in-theatre Q&A will be available on demand from October 24-30 during the online portion of the festival.
ONLINE SCREENINGS: On-Demand October 24 - 30 on fhff.org.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Nick Dean and Cheryl Dean
Dr. Nick Dean has a B.Sc. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and has published more than 100 scientific papers. He has Advanced/Nitrox scuba certifications, PFI free diving/apnea certification, and has spent over 1500 hours underwater. Nick is a board member of the San Diego Undersea Film Exhibition and past president of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society.
In addition to filmmaking, Cheryl Dean has focused her career on promoting philanthropy for non-profit organizations, where her responsibilities have included effectively communicating scientific discoveries to lay audiences. She has Advanced/Nitrox scuba certifications, PFI free diving/apnea certification including safety training, and has been filming underwater since 2010. Cheryl is the current President of the San Diego Undersea Film Exhibition and past board member of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society.
In 2015 Nick and Cheryl Dean founded Spindrift Images, LLC (Spindriftimages.com), a documentary production company focused on underwater and wildlife films. Spindrift Images’ first documentary, The Witness is a Whale, was filmed by Nick and Cheryl Dean over 5 years in multiple locations worldwide. The Witness is a Whale was co-produced with Mark Fletcher Productions and Terra Mater Factual Studios. It is a natural history film that recounts an environmental detective story of the massive illegal and secret slaughter of whales perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Japan during the Cold War and describes the negative impacts of removing so many whales from our oceans where they play a vital role in the health of our planet.
Friday Harbor Film Festival thanks our presenting sponsors: