Maui Whale Festival Presents A VOICE FOR WHALES Film Review — A Love Letter to Whales

A sandalwood tree sways at the shore, a protective charm for the whales of Hawaii…

A diver, the late Greg Kaufman, swims in the clear water…

A Voice for Whales is like a love letter to whales and to the founder of The Pacific Whale Foundation, Greg Kaufman. Created by his widow, Selket Kaufman, it traces the story of how the foundation came into existence and became the voice for whale and environmental protection that it is today. Early in the film, the narrator explains that in Hawaiian creation imagery, the sandalwood tree on the shore is the protector of the whale. Greg Kaufman was the sandalwood, and after his untimely death, the Pacific Whale Foundation, which he created, took on a protective role.

Maui Whale Festival’s Dedication to Protecting Whales

The film follows Kaufman as he begins working with FLOW (For the Love of Whales), decades ago, following around a life-size inflatable whale to protests. We learn that in the 70’s, despite several kinds of whales being placed on the endangered species list, their numbers declined as they were over-hunted around the world. A Voice for Whales helps us see the fight to protect whales against these mighty odds through Greg Kaufman’s eyes. We learn that protests weren’t and aren’t enough. Instead, the Pacific Whale Foundation uses research, educational programs, adventure tours, volunteer participation and film festivals to expand our knowledge of whales, while also developing in the public a greater appreciation and respect for them and their place in the web of life.

This writer saw the steps that Greg Kaufman took to develop this interesting, historical and viable organization. He chose non-invasive research at a time when that meant climbing atop high mountains to survey whales and record observations with a pencil and notebook, and dangerously following whales in small boats taking pictures and recording whale communication. Nowadays, GPS data and modern technology have replaced a lot of the equipment that Greg and his teams used. Still, listening to whales and making keen observations, whether it’s with high tech equipment or spiral notebooks and compasses, are key to effective research.

In this writer’s opinion, the charismatic, handsome, and well-spoken Greg traveled around the globe to work with groups to protect whales. His dedication and insistence, some of the interviewees mention, made him difficult to work with. Still, his sense of purpose and his marvel at whales really capture the public’s imagination. Footage of whales underwater and Greg Kaufman coming up from diving and explaining his experiences displays the beauty of whales and the deep blue ocean. If you are interested in wildlife and passionate about the ocean and its environment, you will enjoy A Voice for Whales.


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Creative Team:

Created by Selket Kaufman

Filmed by Selket Kaufman and Owen R. Palmer

Narration by Kimokeo Kapahulehua

Hawaiian Creation Chant performed by Kanani Enos

Dance Performances by Manutea Nui E

View A Voice for Whales on Vimeo

Caryn Hoffmann
Caryn Hoffman

About the Author: Caryn Hoffman

Ms. Hoffman has a degree in art and her life’s work has been environmentally and  politically focused. After community organizing on both coasts, she had a career as an educator in Southern California. Now, semi-retired, Ms. Hoffman leads an active, outdoor lifestyle, continues to advocate for the environment and travels. She is especially fond of art, film, cultural events and is an ardent, live music fan. She loves adventure travel including camping, hiking, kayaking, rafting and road biking.

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