• Kyodo


The Japanese director of a documentary aimed at ending “misconceptions” about the long-standing Japanese tradition of whaling and dolphin hunting said Friday she hopes the film will help many Americans learn different perspectives.

“I believe the United States is a country which would listen to opinions different than theirs if they are clearly stated,” said Keiko Yagi, as the “Behind the Cove” began showing in New York the same day.

In hopes of getting the film nominated for an Academy award next year, the 49-year-old Tokyo native has been busy fulfilling the requirements, which include getting the documentary shown across the U.S.

After the weeklong screening in New York ends Thursday, Yagi will fly to California for another weeklong screening in Beverly Hills.

Yagi began making the independent documentary after the International Court of Justice ruled in March 2014 that Japan’s so-called research whaling program in the Antarctic Ocean wasn’t scientific after all and should be halted. This drew her attention to the issue.

“In the beginning I did not intend to make a film, I was just trying to find the answer to one question: Why is the whale being targeted?” she explained.

“Behind the Cove” attempts to rebut the 2010 Oscar-winning U.S. film “The Cove,” which thrust the small whaling town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, into the international spotlight with gory scenes of its bloody annual dolphin hunt.

“Who can judge which animal should be eaten or not?” Yagi asked at the Q&A session that followed the first screening in New York.

She was met with a slew of questions regarding ethics, statistics and politics.

“It is interesting. I thought it brought up a lot of provocative points. I thought it was generally successful in promoting dialogue,” said Andy Struck-Marcell, a 35-year-old music editor.

To help fund the cost of the screenings in the United States, Yagi raised ¥5 million ($44,000) through a crowd-funding project.

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