Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Cove: Free dive into cultural antagonism...

Oscar-winning American documentary "The Cove" about a controversial dolphin hunt in a western Japanese town started screening in Japan on Saturday, despite protests that caused earlier screenings to be canceled. The film, is about the story of traditional dolphin catch in a little fishing village of Taiji, in the Wakayama Prefecture.

The documentary film, reinforced by extraordinary technological tools and under sea cameras, was originally scheduled to be screened at 26 theaters across Japan, from June 26. But was delayed due to criticisms of some Japanese nationalists and citizens groups who considered The Cove as being anti-Japanese and a propaganda made by the US producers.

According to media, theaters that planned to show the film in Tokyo and Osaka decided to cancel their screenings. Same decision was adopted in Okinawa on American military bases. Locals say it would add to an already tense antagonistic climate on the Japanese island.

In Taiji, people strongly objected to the documentary, which was mostly shot in the town with hidden cameras. Their claim is that the film is based on wrong information and infringes on individual rights because the people were filmed without their permission.

The filmmaker answer that what is at stake here is not a destabilization of locals' customs and gastronomic culture but the fact that the dolphins and those who eat them risk to increase the level of mercury in their organism.

The Japanese distributor, Unplugged Inc, said that four of the six theaters showing the film on Saturday were targets of street protests or intimidated. Of the four, two in Tokyo and Yokohama successfully applied for a court injunction against civic groups staging protests around the theaters.

"Several theater owners came forward and committed to show The Cove movie despite threats from extreme nationalists" writes on his Blog Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director of Save Japan Dolphin.

"... we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the extremists are again ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date..."

"We have repeatedly tried to engage our critics, inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they employ highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. Their only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes..."

What about the media and Rick O'Barry?

"After the Asahi Newspaper (one of Japan’s largest) printed an opinion piece saying that they believed The Cove should be seen and discussed, the protestors came to their offices!"

Only a handful of people in Taiji, a quiet town of 3,500, hunt dolphins, which are sold to aquariums or eaten. Although O'Barry has visited Taiji many times, the residents and fishermen have reaffirmed that they resent the movie as outside interference in their lifestyle.

O'Barry said scientific data show that dolphin meat has high levels of mercury, which could be toxic if consumed in large amounts, and urged people to stop eating it for health reasons. The activist would offer monetary help to anyone in Taiji and the surrounding region with symptoms of mercury-poisoning and promised to make sure they get tested. Mercury poisoning, which is extremely risky for fetuses, can cause tremors, numbness, mood swings and impaired movement in adults, and can be fatal.

The Japanese think O'Barry is attacking their tradition. He answers that all he wants is a dialogue, including helping Taiji fishermen find alternative ways of making a living. He apologized if the secret filming tactics of "The Cove" have offended some people. But he added "I make no apologies for my cause, many of my friends love the country of Japan, and they all ask the same question: Why do you need to slaughter dolphins?"

✍✍✍ One sure thing I do understand is that O'Barry has a "link" with dolphins since he trained the dolphins in the movie "Flipper"

"Ric O'Barry who later turned marine activist, stated that after production ended he watched the dolphin Kathy's suicide as he stated that he perceived she took her own life: "She was really depressed... You have to understand dolphins and whales are not air breathers like we are. Every breath they take is a conscious effort. They can end their life whenever. She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye, took a breath and didn't take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank." It is said on the that "Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past 30 against them.""

This might explain why...

Sources: Reporters' notes

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