SCOTTISH director Mike Day will take part in a question-and-answer session after April 5's 6.30pm screening of his documentary The Islands And The Whales (12A) at City Screen, York.

In their remote home in the North Atlantic, Faroe Islanders have always eaten what nature could provide, proud to put local food on the table. The land yields little, so they have always relied on harvesting their seas.

Hunting pilot whales and seabirds kept them alive for generations, giving them the way of life they love; a life they would pass on to their children, but today they face a grave threat to this tradition, as Day's film highlights.

It is less the controversy surrounding whaling that threatens the Faroese way of life; the danger now comes from the whales themselves. The Faroese are among the first to feel the effects of our ever more polluted oceans, when a local professor discovers that their beloved whales are toxic, contaminated by the outside world.

Seabird populations are collapsing too, and as environmental changes threaten to change the community and their way of life forever, the Faroe Islanders must make a choice between health and tradition, knowing that what once secured their survival now endangers their children.

Dave Taylor, City Screen's marketing manager, says: "I'm sure we will see the stresses and strains of what is a controversial subject, and the director, Mike Day, will be able to answer questions from the audience after the screening."

Tickets can be booked on 0871 902 5726, in person at the Coney Street box office or at

York Press:

Director Mike Day with his camera on the Faroe Islands

SCOTTISH director and cinematographer Mike Day is a former lawyer in London who founded Intrepid Cinema in 2009 before heading out into the North Atlantic on a boat to make his first documentary, The Guga Hunters of Ness, for the BBC.

While at sea filming, Day met a group of Faroese sailors, leading to his latest film, The Islands And The Whales. Ahead of next Thursday's Q and A at City Screen, he answers a few more questions.

How did you find the subject for this documentary?

"I met a group of Faroes sailors on a 125-year-old sailing fishing vessel in the islands of Scotland while I was making my previous documentary, The Guga Hunters Of Ness.

"They had sailed past the remote rocks in the North Atlantic where we were filming, enduring hurricanes and gales. They thought if we were crazy enough to do that, they should invite us to film their traditions."

What inspired you to tell this story?

"It was initially a local story, about a clash of cultures over the controversy of whale hunting, but it quickly grew into a question of how we all live with the natural world. It is us after all that have polluted the seas."

Did you face any obstacles making the film?

"Many Faroese questioned our agenda; the islands were used to confronting hostile anti-whaling groups, so they thought that would be our angle, so gaining the level of trust needed took time.

"Logistically, we never knew when the whales would appear, if at all, or how the crowds would react to the camera in the heat of the moment. We also filmed a lot on boats in bad weather which is always an extra challenge."

What message do you want audiences to walk away with after seeing your film?

"We all need to look at how we live with the natural world. It’s a complex story, always easier to simplify, but these issues in the Faroes were tangible not theoretical. There is mercury in the whales and there is plastic in the birds.

"It’s very easy to ignore the warning signs, but I feel we are on a precipice, our disconnection from nature is dangerous and I think this film makes us reflect on that and the peril of ignoring the warning signs."