Boarding a ferry heading for Northern Island, an elderly ailing man makes a final pilgrimage to his homeland, hoping to find forgiveness and redemption. A former devout catholic priest, Sean recalls the events of 1972 and his relationship with a younger Irishwoman during The Troubles that led to his self imposed exile. Once an idealistic priest caught in the midst of a horrific massacre at the hands of British soldiers. Witnessing the deaths of many of his friends, Sean became angry, pushed to the limits of his faith. In the wake of the atrocity, Jodie, a conflicted young girl comes to Sean confessing her involvement with an IRA bombing plot on a British military base as retribution for the massacre. Instead of discouraging her, craving justice as much as she, he ignores his moral and spiritual compass. Persuading Jodie to continue with her mission. Weeks later, Sean awakes to news that the bombing has taken place but mistakenly killed innocent civilians, instead of the intended soldiers. Thirty years later, a now faithless and guilt ridden Sean travels to Jodie’s home, seeking forgiveness and resolution, taking desperate measures to right his wrongdoings, questioning his faith and whether he is truly beyond saving.
Balena, inspired by the Book of Jonah, explores the theme of divinity vs. humanity, telling the story of the conflict between a messenger of God and God himself. Examining someone’s loss of faith and betrayal of their soul as a result of very human desires and overwhelming emotions. Anger, confusion, grief and the longing for vengeance are sentiments every person can relate to but can we purge them when tasked with choosing right from wrong? Jonah is ordered to proclaim God’s judgment on the city of Ninevah hoping to enlightening its people and save their souls. Having a personal grievance with the city, Jonah refuses, turning his back on God and fleeing. God summons a whale to swallow Jonah, spending three days in the beast’s stomach. The fearful Jonah prayed to the lord for forgiveness. In this adaptation, Sean has three decades to contemplate his own actions. A man also fearing death and questioning whether the morality he once sacrificed can ever return. The Book of Jonah is a brief tale but within it contains many powerful themes and questions. This adaptation explores the search for humanity in inhumanity, the fragile relationship to our faith and the turmoil of seeking forgiveness.