One With the Whale

A Native family's struggle to rebuild their shattered identities in the modern world

One With the Whale Hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the Indigenous people of St. Lawrence, a tiny island in the Bering Sea. So, when Chris Apassingok becomes the youngest person to ever harpoon a whale for his Alaskan village, his mother proudly shares the news on Facebook. To her surprise, thousands of keyboard activists brutally attack Chris without fully understanding the scope of his accomplishment. A thrilling yet heartwarming story of one family’s struggle to rebuild their shattered identities and find a way to live with ancient Indigenous values in the fast-paced, cruel modern world.

One with the Whale (2023) on IMDb

Festivals and Awards

LaurelMillenium Festival Belgium | WINNER Golden Millenium Award
LaurelTromsø International Film Festival | Official Selection
LaurelDOC NYC | Official Selection
LaurelHot Springs Documentary Film Festival | Official Selection
LaurelBig Sky Documentary Film Festival | Official Selection
LaurelMountainfilm | James Balog Creative Vision Award
LaurelMountainfilm | Student Choice Award

Reviews and More

One with the Whale is a gripping, unapologetic observation of the way the Yupik tribe survives despite several harmful influences, past and present, from the world around them.” – Film Matters

A heartwarming yet gripping narrative about a family striving to reconstruct their identities while navigating between ancient and modern worlds.” – Variety

The Producers

Pete Chelkowski – Co-Director

Pete tells stories that go beyond entertainment, that change the way people think about themselves and the world around them. Mesmerized by the rich diversity of our planet, he often
chooses adventure over comfort. The more remote the location the greater the fulfillment from the frozen Tundra of Alaska, up to the peaks of Kyrgyzstan’ s Tian Shan mountains, down to the ocean depths of the Blue Corner of Palau. A multi-award winning producer and director, his latest project, Life Below Zero-First Alaskans , airs on Nat Geo, the only non-fiction series with an all Native American cast. The last few years, he’s been producing the Mexican series Dark Desire for Netflix. He was a field producer and DP for Discovery’s Ocean Warriors , where he met co-director Jim Wickens. He regularly works undercover for Ecostorm, an environmental detective agency, while at the same time shooting commercials for brands like Coca Cola, Abercrombie & Fitch and Puma.

Jim Wickens – Co-Director

Jim's work has been regularly screened on Channel 4 news, Animal Planet ‘ Ocean Warriors’, CNN and ITV and also in publications such as the New York Times, Guardian, and The Independent. A radical animal rights campaigner for many years with criminal convictions for his investigative work against commercial whaling and sealing activities, Jim now works closely with Indigenous and coastal peoples around the world fighting for recognition and environmental justice. Jim is the co-founder of Ecostorm, the world’s first undercover environmental film agency. He's earned numerous awards, including the Royal Television Society Independent Filmmaker of the Year; the International Foreign Press Award; the Wincott Foundation Award for Journalism; Amnesty International and One World media awards. This is his first feature documentary.

Making The Film

As co-creators, Alaska Native, American, British, Canadian we are working together to organically bring Yupik ideas prominently into the film and capture the spirit of the ancient village of Sivuqaq. We want to bring in daughter Nalu Apassingok, as the central storyteller; to give historical and political context, to bring attention to the multiple waves of colonization, racism, and resulting intergenerational trauma our Alaska Native communities have confronted and are still fighting against today.

Native ways of life, especially subsistence whale hunting, are controversial and not widely understood. But the landscape is changing and the time is ripe for our complex and provocative story.

One With The Whale is a film aimed at breaking down barriers, and building bridges while showing the human side of our Indigenous lifeways that have survived for thousands of years, as we fight for a more just world. We are Guardians."

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more info see our Cookies Policy