The Cove gets into hot water in Japan


Louie Psihoyos’s The Cove, an Oscar-winning documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, is kicking up serious fuss as it finally secures a release in that country.

Protests by fisherman from the town of Taji, the location of the annual dolphin cull, dissuaded Japanese distributors from putting the film into cinemas. In an attempt to cool tempers, Unplugged Pictures, which took on the doc, agreed to pixel-out fishermen’s faces in the Japanese version, but the anger has only become fiercer as the June 26th release date looms. Street protests and sabotage threats have caused two cinemas to cancel bookings of the film.

The rage has now spread to right-wing activists, who say the film is unpatriotic. “The work intentionally distorts Japanese people’s food culture, and showing this will hurt many people’s feelings,” the Society to Seek the Restoration of Sovereignty said in a sushi- flecked statement.

Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer on the TV show Flipper,whose campaign against the cull inspired The Cove, is understandably disturbed. “It’s not right that a small minority of extremists could take this right away from them,” he said. “To do so is a clear threat to democracy.”

The protest has now inspired a counter-campaign by 50 film directors and journalists. Oh well. The publicity is unlikely to damage The Cove’scommercial prospects.