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“356: The Incredible Story of How Saving Whales Can Save Us”.

North Atlantic right whale, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada
North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) off Grand Manan Island, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada.

“A VOICE FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC: IF THE OCEAN COULD TALK” was the film Bonnie Monteleone, Executive Director of Plastic Ocean Project set out to make in 2019. The goal of the film was not to look at the horrors of the ocean, but rather its beauty. Unfortunately, this focus shifted when the crew from Boot Scrap set out to gather b-roll for the film and discovered a deceased newborn North Atlantic right whale. The film short that emerged is called “356: The Incredible Story of How Saving Whales Can Save Us”.

Monteleone says the species is critically endangered, with more whales disappearing each year, “Every month we seem to be losing another one. 356 was the number that whale would have been if it survived. We are below 330 right whales now. So, we are losing them at an exponential rate. That’s why the urgency for getting this film out is to make people understand that these whales are important to our lives as well. They actually help with climate change.”

JT Fritsch, owner of Boot Scrap, says the day his crew went out to film the right whales in their natural environment, he had no idea they would stumble onto a mystery, “While we were out on the boat, we got the call that a newborn had washed up close to us. So, the short became this action-adventure to find this whale. And that’s the through line, the narrative of the film and the substance. It’s exploring the health of our oceans and the importance of these animals to the health of our economy and environment.”

Monteleone says by the time the film is done, she wants audiences to feel empowered. She says the filmmakers give audience members explicit things they can do all the way through the film so that everyone can be a part of saving the whales 2.0.

Cheril was born in Charleston, SC but has lived all over the US, including Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia and Nebraska. Her first broadcast opportunity was as a weather forecaster on the Far East Network (FEN) in Okinawa, Japan! Cheril admits she loves to talk and enjoys meeting people through her work and hearing their stories. Traveling, reading, going to concerts, laughing with friends and trying new restaurants, are a few of her favorite things. She also judges films for the Omaha Film Festival. Her next big trips will include a return visit to Ireland, a first time trip to Taiwan and New Zealand. Have an arts story idea? Email Cheril at clee@whqr.org