In The Islands and the Whales, we travel to the sea-sprayed Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the far north Atlantic. The island’s residents are grappling with globalization’s threats to their traditional food practices: from mercury poisoning due to ocean pollution, to the demands of of anti-whaling activists, whale has become a highly contested part of the Faroese diet.

Across the United States, communities where fishing and hunting are central to the local economy face similar challenges.  What happens when the foods that have sustained remote areas for centuries are no longer available due to climate change, new policies, and changing social mores? POV partnered with libraries in across the United States, to share the film with communities who might find common cause with the Faroese.

Our partners include:

Jupiter Branch Library  – Juniper, Florida

Hosting a December 29, 2017 screening and discussion featuring Dr. Jeremy Kizska, who recently authored a study of mercury levels in bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon. Dr. Kizska will talk about mercury levels in local waters in Palm Beach County.

Portland Public Library – Portland, Maine

Hosted a August 10, 2017 screening and discussion

Department of Wildlife of the North Slope – Utqiagvik, Alaska

Hosted a September 26, 2017 screening for local staff. Utqiagvik is the northernmost city in the United States, and has a tradition of whale hunting

Coos Bay Public Library – Coos Bay, Oregon

Hosted a September 14, 2017 screening and discussion

Porter Memorial Library – Machias, Maine

Hosted an October 2, 2017 screening and discussion with special guest Tora Johnson, author of Entanglements: the Intertwined Fates of Whales and Fishermen

Skagway School Climate Festival – Skagway, Alaska

Hosting a October 21, 2017 screening and discussion


The Island and the Whales Conversation Starter:

A TV host asks, “Should the Faroese stop eating and killing pilot whales? Or should we put our tradition before our health?” Where do you stand on those questions? Should outsiders have any say in the final decision, or is this exclusively up to the Faroese to decide?

For more prompts for discussion, download The Island and the Whales discussion guide, lesson plan, and reading list.

Visit our local events calendar for a full list of events happening across the country and join our Community Network to host a screening of your own!

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.