Distributor hopes to screen ‘The Cove’ soon


A film distributor that acquired the rights to screen in Japan the documentary “The Cove,” which shows the slaughter of dolphins near Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, hopes to bring the Oscar-nominated film to theaters soon.

Tokyo-based Medallion Media is in talks with cinemas to bring the film to Japanese audiences as soon as possible, a company official said Friday.

“This movie targets Japan and is viewed by many people in many countries. It’s very strange that it is not shown in Japan,” Medallion director Norio Okahara told The Japan Times in a phone interview.

The company is aiming to release the movie in April as requested by the representatives of the makers of “The Cove,” but “we are not sure when we can show the movie in cinemas,” Okahara said.

“The Cove,” which covers the annual dolphin slaughter in a Taiji inlet, drew international attention to the brutality of the hunt when it debuted in cinemas in the U.S., Europe, Oceania and other parts of Asia last summer.

The film, one of five nominees for best documentary feature in this year’s Oscars, was only shown twice in Japan, at two small venues — the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward in September, and the Tokyo Film Festival in Minato Ward in October.

The film, directed by Louie Psihoyos, contains footage of dolphins being brutally killed and points out that meat from the mammals has high levels of toxic methyl mercury.

It also explains how Ric O’Barry, a dolphin protection activist and protagonist of the film, fell in love with dolphins; how local fishermen and police tried to block the movie crew from filming; and how the crew used ingenious high-tech devices to secretly film the hunt. Much of the movie was filmed with hidden cameras over a five-year period.

Okahara, who said he is not taking sides in the controversy over the hunt, was shocked when he saw the movie for the first time. “This movie shows that some people would do anything to stop the dolphin killings. The passion to stop the slaughter” comes through clearly in the film, he said.