‘In The Whale’ Long Island Premiere At Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

The award-winning documentary, “In the Whale,” is the true-life story of Cape Cod fisherman Michael Packard. It is making its Long Island premiere on Saturday, March 2, at 7 PM at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

“Michael Packard’s incredible survival is a testament to the unpredictable nature of life. ‘In the Whale’ is a voyage into the miraculous,” said WHBPAC Executive Director Julienne Penza-Boone. The screening will also feature a discussion and audience Q&A session with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and director, New York native David Abel.

“In The Whale” is a feature-length film about arguably the most incredible fish story ever told. It’s the account of a man who survived to tell the tale of being swallowed by a whale and what happened after he escaped.

For several months a year, Packard and his longtime mate, Josiah Mayo, cast off nearly every morning around dawn and navigate through the half-light to their diving grounds off Provincetown, where they grew up at the tip of the Cape. Packard buckles on his scuba tank and plunges into the cold waters to hunt on the seafloor.

As the region’s last-remaining commercial lobster diver, the 57-year-old father has had his share of harrowing experiences, which include close encounters with great whites, nearly drowning, and having to pull up the body of a fellow diver. He even survived a plane crash in the jungles of Costa Rica, where he ran a charter fishing business. But what happened to him on a routine dive during a clear June morning was something he never imagined possible, and many worldwide refused to believe. Packard was engulfed by a humpback whale, caught in the watery cavity of its massive mouth. After some 30 seconds of pitch-black captivity, in which he expected to die, he was spit out, fins first, to the surface, where Mayo and another fisherman rescued him.

The publicity was similarly dizzying for the reclusive fisherman, whose survival story spread worldwide in news dispatches. But what came after the limelight dimmed was even more significant for Packard. WHBPAC Marketing Director Heather Draskin said, “’In the Whale’ is a life-affirming experience about the indomitable spirit of mankind.”

David Abel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers fisheries and environmental issues for The Boston Globe. Abel’s work has also won an Edward R. Murrow Award, the Ernie Pyle Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting. Abel’s last film, “Entangled,” won a Jackson Wild award, known as the Oscars of nature films.

Tickets can be purchased at whbpac.org.

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