“I’m trying to start a conversation,” proclaims Dr. Michelle Fournet, an American researcher studying the communication of humpback whales. As she enlists a team to aid her study in Alaska, we follow Dr. Ellen Garland, a Scottish researcher in French Polynesia scrutinizing how such patterns evolve, even across oceans and continents. For these women, this is an ambitious opportunity for rich discoveries—but it also provides them the environment that they feel the most at ease in, by connecting with a creature that has mystified humanity for generations.
Filmmaker and cinematographer Drew Xanthopoulos returns to Tribeca with the visually stunning Fathom, a thought-provoking documentary that prompts the audience to immerse itself in a sensorial experience of awe and wonder. Xanthopoulos eschews sit-down interviews in favor of poetic narration, having both scientists convey their thoughts like a research log. The majestic quality of these mammals, alongside the palpable dedication of these women, carries through the narrative. With Fathom, Xanthopoulos explores a universal idea—the search for connection—within the parameters of an environmental documentary, resulting in a thoughtful film that is both larger-than-life in its cinematic imagery as well as strikingly intimate and personal.
Drew Xanthopoulos is an award-winning director and cinematographer whose previous feature documentary, The Sensitives, premiered at Tribeca and won a Special Jury Mention for the Cinematic Vision Award at the Camden International Film Festival. Fathom is his second documentary feature film.