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Two biologists set out on an undertaking as colossal as their subjects: deciphering the complex communication of whales. Dr Michelle Fournet and Dr Ellen Garland journey to opposite hemispheres to uncover a culture eons older than our own.

The Filmmakers

Drew Xanthopoulos Director

Drew is the director and cinematographer of the feature documentary THE SENSITIVES (World Premiere, Competition, Tribeca) which was awarded a Special Jury Mention for the Cinematic Vision Award at the Camden International Film Festival. As a cinematographer, he’s most recently DP'ed the narrative features DISCREET (Berlinale) and ROGERS PARK (Chicago IFF), the doc series THE MORTIFIED GUIDE (Sundance), the feature doc DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (SXSW) and has contributed footage to Terrence Malick’s VOYAGE OF TIME. He is also on the advisory boards of the Austin Film Society and the Big Sky Film Institute. 

Megan Gilbride Producer

Megan Gilbride is a two-time-Emmy-winning and Independent Spirit Award nominated producer of narrative and documentary films. She produced the Emmy-award-winning and PBS-broadcast documentary TOWER, which shortlisted for the Best Documentary Academy Award and was nominated for a Peabody Award.  She produced LOVERS OF HATE, a Sundance Dramatic Competition premiere, released by IFC and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. She produced the PBS-broadcast documentary SUNSHINE and co-produced WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM which won an Independent Spirit Award, aired on POV and won a News and Documentary Emmy. A former FIND Fellow, Megan most recently produced DEAR MR. BRODY with Impact Partners and Topic. She is a Committee Co-Chair of the Documentary Producers Alliance and a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Festivals & Awards

Tribeca Film Festival


“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.
—Jose Rodriguez


An inspiring tribute to the power of curiosity, purpose, and the triumphant joy of adding one more piece to the jigsaw puzzle of knowledge.”

Like science-fiction without the fiction.”

-The New York Times

Meditative...There’s a quiet dignity to its study of the solitary souls out there trying to find communion with similar spirits.”

-Screen International