A WHALE OF A TALE
A Film by Peter Lynch
The miraculous discovery of a whalebone during the excavation of a new subway line in downtown Toronto during the 1980's set the city aflutter. The bone, a vertebrae, found in a landfill about 20 meters below the surface by backhoe operator Joe Resendes, a contractor working for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) did not belong there. Toronto was thousands of kilometers from the ocean. There existed no recorded history of whales ever having made it to the city on Lake Ontario.
Could it be that the bone was pre-historic? Would it re-writer the history of the Great Lakes? Did the greatest beast to ever live on earth swim in shadow of the city? Was there a pre-historic ocean beneath the city? Did Lake Champlain come closer to Toronto than had been presumed up to this time? The questions and possibilities were endless. It was difficult to tell who was more excited, the media, the general public or the scientific community.
The story died down and the whalebone disappeared into a drawer in the basement of the Royal Ontario Museum...Until Now.
The Whale Bone: A story about an unearthed whale bone has become the jumping off point for my latest film. The film looks to be a rumination on man's complex and uneasy relationship to the phantom marine mammal -- the whale. The film mediates on the subject from a multilayered perspective-- ranging from the biological, theological, anthropological, as well as looking at literary and mythological whale stories.
The Film: The film sets out to uncover the mystery of how the bone actually arrived in Lake Ontario. Like the story of Nantucket in Moby Dick, the film proposes a town that is an imaginary construct, as well as a real locale. This tale has become a protean idea -- not merely about a city's history or a lone misplaced vertebrae. The film itself has now become a quest and adventure story. More all encompassing than a rumination on the enigma surrounding a cetacean spine -- it has become a story about the very mythic relationship between man and whales. As Melville suggests in Moby Dick, the film has become a pursuit of "a fine boisterous something"!
Peter's Quest: With a cast of the original found whale bone, I set out to find out how this vertebrate actually landed so many miles from an ocean. Every conversation along the way begins with the bone -- whether with marine biologists, theologians, museum curators, fishermen, forensic DNA specialists, sideshow talkers, or novelists -- propelling the story beyond an old dusty bone in a museum to a contemporary mythic rumination on man and whales.
Characters: The people we meet in this film include -- the central characters surrounding the finding of the bone; leading authorities on various aspects of whale culture and science; Marine biologists; Whale Museum curators; Paleologists; Whale Bone collectors; Historians; Novelists; Veterinarians; Fishermen; Fishing disentanglement specialists; Wildlife officials; Forensic police officers; DNA experts; Whale flensing specialists; and last but not least, Side Show "talkers" who in other times presented whales at carnivals.
-Peter Lynch, 2004
PETER LYNCH- DIRECTOR
"Have you seen Project Grizzly? It's fantastic." - Quentin Tarantino, (The Charlie Rose Show, 1997)
Cyberman had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where Globe and Mail correspondent Mark Peranson wrote, "the most excitement comes with today's world premiere of Cyberman...ambitious and compelling... " Associate editor Nicole Armour listed Cyberman in her top ten films of the year in Film Comment. Critic and filmmaker Peter Wintonick (P.O.V. Magazine) called it "the most important Canadian film this year... a film that stands at the crossroads of form at the intersection of old and new." Adrian Martin (Senses of Cinema) called Cyberman " a hilarious and enthralling documentary". Kent Jones (contributor to The New York Times and Film Comment) wrote that Cyberman "is terrific, funny; it's incisive. It's got a really wonderful delirium in it." Cyberman had its North American premiere at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has played at over thirty international festivals including Berlin, Buenos Aires, and SXSW.
Lynch's feature film, The Herd was released by Red Sky Entertainment, a major hit at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival, and was listed in London's TIME OUT magazine as one of the highlights of the 1999 International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Project Grizzly was named as one of the top ten Canadian theatrical releases in 1997. Critic and author Geoff Pevere called it "fascinating, hilarious...stimulating, intelligent, and innovative" and gave it four stars in The Globe and Mail. Project Grizzly was also named one of New York City's highly rated video releases and named as one of the top 20 films in NOW Magazine's 20th anniversary issue (October 2001).
In 1994, Lynch's Arrowhead received the Genie for Best Short Film and was listed as one of the top ten films of the year by Toronto Star critic Craig McInnis. Film critic Gerald Peary (Film Comment & The Boston Phoenix) lists Arrowhead in his top ten list of most important shorts of all time. All of Lynch's films have played at festivals around the world and have been broadcast internationally.
ED BARREVELD- PRODUCER, STORYLINE ENTERTAINMENT
Storyline Entertainment CEO and Emmy Award-winning producer Ed Barreveld is one of Canada’s top independent documentary-film professionals. A hands-on producer with 30 years of experience in both financing and the field, Barreveld brings together Canadian and international storytellers, investors, and partners on documentaries that explore underexposed places and perspectives in society and culture.
Barreveld has partnered with producers and investors in Germany, Belgium, Australia, Greece, France, Chile, and the U.S.A. He regularly attends many of the top documentary market events.
Storyline titles have sold internationally, screened at Tribeca, Hot Docs, IDFA, and TIFF, and garnered numerous festival accolades, as well as Emmy, Gemini, and Canadian Screen awards and nominations.
Barreveld is a member of the Documentary Organization of Canada, the International Documentary Association and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Documentary Film Committee.
STAN DENNISTON- CINEMATOGRAPHER
Stan Denniston is a photo and video artist who lives in Toronto. He is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery.
CAROLINE CHRISTIE- EDITOR, ACQUAFILM INC.
SARAH CHRISTIE- PA
Sarah Christie is an avid traveler and photographer.