by Chris MaGee
There's probably been a few of you out there wondering why we haven't been reporting on the storm of controversy surrounding the attempted Japanese theatrical release of Louie Psihoyos'(above) Oscar-winning documentary "the Cove". No we have not been ignoring the story, in fact I've been keeping an eye on the story for a couple weeks now. It just seemed that every time I found myself about to write a post on it though the situation changed or there were further developments. First a handful of theatres in Osaka were going to screen it, then they weren't. Dolphin rights activist was never going to get a travel visa to enter Japan and then he's taking actress Daryl Hannah to Taiji to protest the annual dolphin slaughter. Then "The Cove" was going to be screened... and then it wasn't. The story seemed less like a news item and more like an ever evolving weather report. Well, I'm finally going to report on the potential release of "The Cove" although it may not be the most up to date information by the time it gets posted on the blog. Here goes...
Unplugged Inc., the Japanese theatrical distributor for the controversial documentary, had originally planned to release "The Cove" at Tokyo's Theater N Shibuya on June 26th in advance of a wider theatrical release across Japan. As Japanese film blogger Jason Gray had reported, though, an influx of phone calls and emails demanding that the film not be screened ended up having the desired effect. On June 3rd the screening at Theater N Shibuya was canceled and the whole Japanese theatrical release was put into extreme doubt.
The argument by those opposing the release of "The Cove" in japan was that it portrays a one-sided view of the dolphin hunt/ slaughter in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, and that it is just an extension on the anti-whaling movement. Not all Japanese agree with this point of view, in fact a petition was started and signed by dozens of prominent Japanese journalists, scholars and filmmakers such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Yoichi Sai, Tatsuya Mori and Kazuhiro Soda. (Read the whole list in Japanese here).
Now after much back and forth it looks (at least at this moment) that "The Cove will be getting a theatrical release in Japan starting on July 3rd. According to Japan Today "The Cove" will finally be screened at theatres in Osaka, Sendai, Yokohama, Kyoto and Hachinohe. This change of plan was mostly due to the influence of the petitioners who see the banning of the film in Japan to be an issue of free speech."We will create a situation in which people can express their approval or disapproval of this film after they first watch it,’’ said Unplugged Inc. representative Takeshi Kato at a recent news conference.
So, while I agree with a lot of what is put forward in "The Cove", we at the Pow-Wow are interested to hear your opinion. Have your say in the comments - Do you think "The Cove" should screen in Japanese theatres?