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FILM FESTIVAL FILM FESTIVAL SOCIOAMBIENTAL FILM FESTIVAL LATINO FILM


BEST DOCUMENTARY SELECTION FESTIVAL BEST DOCUMENTARY
FESTIVAL
2009 2009 SELECTION 2009
SELECTION
2009 2010

WHALES OF GOLD
A film by Lucia Duncan
Every winter, following the migration of grey whales, tourists, scientists, and
conservationists descend upon the San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico.
Their presence - and the establishment of Latin America's largest biosphere
reserve - brings profound change to the lagoon’s small fishing community.
Twelve-year-old Antonio negotiates between the different points of view
of locals and outsiders about the changes and what the future will bring.
“Whales of Gold” raises questions about how to conserve habitat and species
in a way that also sustains the livelihoods of local people. (38 min.)

Partial Funding by:

direct
cinema
limited

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com


Director’s Statement

I am fascinated by the way in which ecotourism is marketed as a trip to paradise – a form of tourism that
does no harm, a win-win situation for tourists, local people, and the environment. Ecotourism is the
fastest growing sector of the global tourism industry and is especially important to the economies of
developing countries. While tourists delight in their immersion in untouched nature - beautiful scenery and
exotic animals - they often have no real contact with local people. I wanted to make a film that would
explore the impact of ecotourism on one community from the perspective of local people.

The San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California Sur is famous for the annual migration of grey whales that give
birth in its protected waters. This phenomenon draws thousands of tourists, scientists, and conservationists and
has brought profound change to what is otherwise a remote fishing village. One of the most significant changes
was the establishment of the Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, the largest Natural Protected Area in Latin
America, to protect the whales and other natural resources. The San Ignacio Lagoon is held up as a model
of successful ecotourism and conservation, but in fact the benefits to the local community have been
limited. There is only one local family-owned whale watching company, which struggles to survive. While
some local people work seasonally in tourism, most are fishermen who would like to see support for other forms of
economic development such as a fish processing plant. They feel marginalized from decision-making about
the lagoon’s future and fear that their families will be displaced as ecotourism grows. My hope is that
WHALES OF GOLD will help viewers think more critically about the multiple impacts of ecotourism and conservation
and who benefits from the changes they bring.

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com


Crew Bios

Lucia Duncan, Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor


Lucia has directed films about labor, tourism, culture, and the environment. Her film MAKING HISTORY:
SEIU AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. As a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil, she
made OLINDA: WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE SITE and LORD OF OLINDA, and worked for Video in the
Villages, teaching documentary production to indigenous youth. She has a BA in Development Studies and
Portuguese/Brazilian Studies from Brown University and an MFA in Film/Video from the University of Texas.

Joanna Rabiger, Editing Consultant


Joanna is a freelance editor and documentary film grantwriter. Recent credits include: Writer, GIVE UP
TOMORROW, feature documentary dir./prod. Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins (forthcoming); Creative
Advisor, MY INVISIBLE GIRLFRIEND, feature documentary dir. David Redmon and Ashley Sabin of
Carnivalesque Films, (forthcoming); Editor, THE LONG HAUL, feature documentary dir. Liz Welch Tirrell,
2008; Editor, THE WAY NORTH/LA VOIE DU NORD, feature documentary dir. Shara K. Lange, 2007;
Editing Consultant/Associate Producer, INSIDE THE CIRCLE, feature documentary dir. Marcy Garriott,
2007; Editor, DRESSED TO KILL, feature documentary dir. Carol Wagner, 2005; Editor, GIRL WRESTLER,
feature documentary dir. Diane Zander broadcast Independent Lens series, PBS, 2004.

Luis Blanco, Boom Operator


Luis is acquiring his degree in Audiovisual Communications at the Autonomous University of Baja California
(UABC), Tijuana, Mexico. He has worked independently in the production of local TV commercials,
documentaries, short films, music videos, radio podcasts, and audiovisual art. He has collaborated with
YONKEart, Esferacorp, Polen audiovisual, and Sergio Brown Figueredo's TIJUANA SOUND MACHINE music
video for Nortec Collective.

Jim Hershman, Composer


As a guitarist, Jim has performed with such diverse artists as Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Jon Hendricks, The
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Billy Porter, Patty Lupone, Jimmy Webb and
many others. Jim holds a B.A. in Political Science from the California State University, Northridge and an M.A.M.
from the Manhattan School of Music. He lives in New York and is active in both the jazz and theatre communities.

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com


Credits

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor


Lucia Duncan

Boom Operators
Fernando Garcia
Marcos Sedano
Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Luís Blanco

Editing Consultants
Susan Duncan
Anne Lewis
Marcia Pirmez
Joanna Rabiger

Composer
Jim Hershman

Sound Editor
Greg Armstrong

Sound Mixer
Bradford Engleking

Color Correction
Video Post & Transfer

Post-Production Supervisor
Susanne Kraft

Translation
Anna Duncan
Lidia Marte
Nain Yepez

Partial Funding by
Austin Film Society
Direct Cinema Inc.
Puffin Foundation
The University of Texas at Austin
University Film and Video Association

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com


Director’s Selected Filmography

WHALES OF GOLD
Documentary, 40 min, 2009
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor
Residents of a fishing village in Baja California Sur, Mexico, reflect on changes brought to their community
by tourism and conservation. Screened at Bordocs Film Festival, San Diego Latino Film Festival, Fri Cine
Environmental Film Festival, Future Places Film Festival; awarded best documentary at the U.Frame and
NextFrame film festivals, 2009.

NORTH CROSSING
Narrative, 12 min., Super 16 mm, 2006
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor
A young soldier about to be deployed to Iraq struggles to tell his father and brother of his doubts.
Broadcast on Austin’s Community Access Station and screened in Austin high schools in partnership with
a local organization, Non-Military Options for Youth.

TRIBUTE TO ELISEO MEDINA


Documentary, 17 min., 2006
Director/Producer
Portrait of a Chicano labor leader who was Vice President of the United Farm Workers and went on to
become Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Screened at the SEIU
South/Southwest Organizing Conference, the Santa Fe Film Festival, and the Sin Fronteras Film Festival.

GRANDFATHER
Narrative, 5:30 min., Super 16 mm, 2005
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor
A young girl comforts her dying grandfather in a way that his adult caregivers do not.

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com


Director’s Selected Filmography

LORD OF OLINDA
Documentary, 22 min., 2005
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor
For over 60 years the Lord of Olinda has been a beloved character of Olinda’s carnival. Interweaving scenes of his daily
life and of carnival, this film explores the man behind the character. Screened on public TV and at the municipal
theater in Olinda, Brazil; Boston Latino Film Festival; Cine Las Americas; and the Sin Fronteras Film Festival.

OLINDA: WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE SITE


Documentary, 12 min., 2005
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor
The viewer is introduced to the historic and scenic city of Olinda, a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, through the perspective of native tour guides. Little by little, the daily lives of the tour guides
are revealed, showing a side of the city that many would prefer to ignore. Screened in Olinda through a
municipal program, Films in the Plazas; Cine Las Americas; Experiments in Cinema.

ORGANIZING THE UNORGANIZED


Documentary, 12 min., 2004
Director/Producer
Janitors (SEIU members) and security officers who work for the same companies describe the differences
in their pay, benefits, training, and respect at work. Screened at the SEIU Convention and received International
Labor Communications Award, 2005.

MAKING HISTORY: SEIU AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT


Documentary, 40 min., 2001
Director/Producer/Writer/Researcher
The history of six pivotal U.S. labor struggles told through archival footage, music, and testimony. Screened in
trainings for SEIU members and staff across the U.S. and received a CINE Golden Eagle Award, 2003.

Lucia Duncan . (512) 585 0419 . luciaduncan@gmail.com . whalesofgold.blogspot.com