A Taste of Whale
Every year, 700 pilot whales are slaughtered on the Faroe Islands despite the protests of animal rights activists.
Every year, hundreds of pilot whales are hunted in the fjords of the Faroe Islands. It’s locally known as the “Grind”, a spectacular and bloody tradition. International activists would like to put an end to it, so that these mammals will stop suffering. But the Faroese whalers denounce the hypocrisy of those who eat meat without looking at what is happening in slaughterhouses and at the industries polluting our planet.
Faroe Islands, North Atlantic.
The fjord’s water, surrounded by stunning green mountains, is turning blood red. Every year, 700 pilot whales are slaughtered in the isolated archipelago. The Faroese people even have a name for this traditional hunting season: the Grindadràp, or the “Grind”.
A TASTE OF WHALE offers a rare insight into a Grind season, following two proud Faeroese whalers on one side and two young and passionate Sea Shepherd activists on the other.
Sea Shepherd activists have landed in the calm and serene archipelago to request the immediate ending of these brutal killings. Among them are Lamya and Antoine: young and determined, they are ready to do anything to stop the Grind. And they will prove it. For them, this so-called tradition is little more than gratuitous animal cruelty. What used to be the only means of survival on once-desolate islands is now no longer justifiable in this modern, wealthy nation. As the Faroe Islanders bring their children to watch a particularly bloody Grind from the beach, Antoine is devastated. Together with Lamya, Antoine invites us to reflect on our individual and collective responsibility to protect the world we live in as well as on the kind of society we want to build and pass on to our descendants.
Meanwhile, Jens and Torik, two respected Faroese whalers, would never miss a Grind. One can’t say they are looking forward to it, but the killing is a ‘part of the job’ as Jens puts it. It is a simple, yet cruel reality: there can be no meat without somebody willing to kill for it. The whalers argue that the meat from the Grind is shared equally among the community. They don’t stand to profit from it, either, as pilot whale meat is considered too polluted for export. Jens and Torik both know that their tradition is not going to last forever. But they are not ready to abandon it just yet—especially when foreigners, like Lamya and Antoine, disembark on their quiet island and aggressively campaign against it, decrying the whalers as savage butchers. The Faroese people might eventually abandon the Grind, but it won’t be on Sea Shepherd’s terms.
The tension has already escalated between the Faroese whalers and Sea Shepherd when the first pod of pilot whales is seen near the shores…
But there is more at stake than this open-air slaughterhouse that some are celebrating, and others are trying to prevent at all costs. A TASTE OF WHALE invites you to see past the preconceived positions and past the blood to question what the practice of eating meat really implies.
The “Grind” forces us to re-evaluate our relationship to eating meat, and to consider: if this ritualized, shocking killing is happening out in the open, on the beaches of the Faroe Islands where hundreds of dead pilot whales are out on display, what similar brutalities are hidden behind the closed doors of slaughterhouses, everywhere else in the world?
Using beautiful, haunting, and rare footage, A TASTE OF WHALE relies on the specific circumstances of the Faroe Islands to reflect on a significant, global issue of our time. In presenting the perspectives of whalers and activists through four relatable and passionate characters the[BM3] [RG4] film invites the audience to bear witness to the “Grind” and to confront a practice too often taken for granted.
A journalist and DOP, Vincent Kelner has worked for TV productions in France and around the world over the last 20 years. A TASTE OF WHALE is the second documentary feature he has written and directed.
Rémi Grellety is an Academy Award-nominee and Emmy and BAFTA-winning producer. He has been producing Raoul Peck’s feature films and documentary films (including I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and HBO’s EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES) for the past 14 years and has also produced films for many first-time documentary filmmakers.