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The Documentary
BALEO, BALEO! Whales and Whale Hunters in Indonesia
Popup Image: Whale hunting boat on the sea.
In Lamalera, the whale hunting boats set out to sea every day except Sunday during the hunting season, which lasts from May till October

In most countries of the Western world people usually disapprove to whale hunting and pictures of whaling fleets slaughtering these see mammals cause serious concern.

This is, however, just one side of the coin. There is a less known art of whale hunting much more difficult to judge from far away: In Indonesia's Nusa Tenggara archipelago, about 800 kilometers east of Bali, there is a village called Lamalera, where people have made a living from whaling for hundreds of years.

Popup Image: harpooner 
                            jumps onto the back of the whale
The whale is still alive, when the whale hunters tie it to the boat and cut deep wounds in its back. They try to kill the animal as fast as possible

During the hunting season the whale hunters sail out every day to try their luck. If they manage to get close enough to a sperm whale - often over 12 meters long - the harpooner jumps from a small boat onto the back of the victim trying to thrust his hunting weapon into it. If this is done successfully, a chase of several hours begins. In some cases though, the match is won by the whale, which can hit the harpooner fatally with its tail and even sink the boat.

The whale hunters of Lamalera undoubtedly pursue a bloody profession and the agony of the whales caught by them isn't nice to look at, not even in a documentary. But they do it to make a living; they have no choice. The area around the village isn't suitable for farming and keeping up the tradition of their ancestors is a must for these people.

Popup Image: Old whale hunter sits in front of a huge whale scull.
The central square of the village is marked by a huge whale skull. It is an ideal place for the old whale hunters to remember the good old times...

Still, it may not be long that the traditional whale hunting culture of Lamalera - a sustainable economy and lifestyle - will be gone forever. The number of hunters in the village has drastically shrunk in recent years. In 2003, a film crew from Hungary thought it worthwhile to pay a longer visit to this unique location and document a disappearing culture and its whale hunting methods.

Title: BALEO, BALEO! Whales and Whale Hunters in Indonesia
Produced by: Imre Hadzsi
Duration: 38 minutes
Year of completion: 2004
Filming location: Indonesia, Lamalera
Language: Hungarian
(English translation / subtitles available)
Prizes: 1st price in the Culture and Environment category at the Vagabond Festival in Hungary (part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival - World Tour)
For further information please contact: Imre Hadzsi
Phone:: +36 30 2307732
E-mail: hadzsi@mail.datanet.hu





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