The Oscar-winning film “The Cove” about the dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, will be shown in Japan from next month despite pressure from nationalist groups that caused several theaters to cancel screenings.
The domestic distributor, Unplugged, said Monday that six theaters around the country will start showing the movie July 3, with 16 more to show it later.
Initial screenings of the film at three other theaters were canceled early this month after protests by nationalist groups who say the film is anti-Japanese, distorts the truth and has deep connections with a militant antiwhaling organization.
The issue erupted into a broad debate on freedom of speech after those theaters pulled out to avoid disruptive protests on their doorsteps. National newspapers widely condemned the cancellations in editorials, and prominent filmmakers, journalists and lawyers publicly urged theaters not to back down.
“We’ve increasingly been hearing from ordinary customers, who protest and say it is better that we work to show the film so that people can form opinions after they’ve seen it,” said Takeshi Kato, president of Unplugged.
Nationalist groups, known for blasting slogans from truck convoys and hand-held loudspeakers, often use the threat of protests as leverage. Several such protests were held in front of Unplugged’s offices in Tokyo, and twice outside Kato’s home, according to Kato.