It is October 10th, 2019. On the last day of shooting AMA’ARA – the SONG of the WHALES, jazz singer Marina Trost has a fatal accident while diving on the coast of EUA in the Kingdom of Tonga. My underwater camerawoman and a dive guide were with her while I was waiting for them to return. But I waited in vain. Marina Trost was found 5 weeks later by a fisherman, only a few hundred meters from where we had searched. The video recordings we see later end with the moment the accident happened. The last footage shows that Marina Trost had run out of oxygen. My camerawoman’s dive computer will show that she also had no more air in her tank a few hours later when she comes up 16 minutes later. She looks at me, speechless and panicky with fear. A little later, when we start looking for Marina, she embraces my legs, lying on the ground, and won’t let go. I will probably never forget these moments in my life, just like everything else that happened in the following days.
But this is another story and not the one I want to tell with AMA’ARA – the SONG of the WHALES. I do want to tell the story of a woman who had the vision to give whales a voice by singing with them. A woman who was also hoping that people would stop killing whales. Marina Trost came to me in 2017 to tell me about her vision and ask me to accompany her as a filmmaker. I agreed, and in early 2018, with a small film crew, we started filming in Bosnia, Hawaii, and the Kingdom of Tonga. In early 2019 Marina, who was previously afraid of the water, took swimming lessons and successfully obtained her diving license in Thailand. She not only wanted to sing with the whales but also be able to meet them physically. From our first meeting until her death, Marina was very passionate about this project. As a director and author, it was now a matter of the heart for me to implement her vision on film with the same passion and bring it out into the world. During postproduction, I continuously remembered one experience. I was swimming with a female whale, just a few meters below me. She kept getting closer for quite some time. She showed off her white belly and spread her fins like wings, and I stretched out my arms as well. It was a magical experience that triggered an unbelievable feeling of happiness inside of me.
As a director, I hope that the audience will experience a similar feeling of happiness, which will make this their very own personal whale encounter. And who knows, maybe the audience will then contribute to turning Marina Trost’s vision a little bit more into reality.