After five years in the making, Na Nai’a: Legends of the Dolphins, which features gorgeous 3D footage of some of the rarest dolphins in the world, jumps off screens tonight at the LA Film Festival. The film documents acrobatic dusky dolphins, the pink dolphin of the Amazon, and Hector’s dolphin, a species found only in New Zealand. “The film tells the story of the dolphins from their point of view,” says director Jonathon Kay.
The film originated years ago when Kay picked up a hitchhiker in Maui who introduced him to kayaking with dolphins. The Canadian-born filmmaker who direct Walking After Midnight, a film that explores the past-life experiences of various celebrities, was hooked. He ended up travelling to eight locales around the world to document the lives of the super smart marine mammals. His goal: “bringing awareness to environmental issues affecting dolphins.”
The result is a family-friendly nature film with an all-star cast of voice talent including James Franco, Isabella Rosselini, Ellen Page, and Megan Fox. Each celeb narrates a segment about a particular country and Darryl Hannah frolics with the creatures in what Kay calls “the underwater dance of the dolphins.” Hannah gave a leaf to a dolphin and, according to Kay, the dolphins passed it among each other “like a game of tag.”
You won’t see captive dolphins in the film; it’s comprised entirely of dolphins that were filmed in the wild. Another aspect of dolphin nature you won’t see in Na Nai’a: dolphins getting frisky. “The bottlenose dolphins in Mozambique were so loving that we had to cut some of the footage to keep from getting an R rating,” says Kay.
Kay hopes his movie will inspire people to see dolphins “as friends of humanity. And by helping their future, they’ll be helping ours.”