This time last year, producers of the "The Cove" were riding high after winning Best Documentary at the 2010 Academy Awards.
Directed by Louie Psihoyos and produced by Fisher Stevens and Paula DuPre Pesmen, the film shed light on the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins in the Japanese fishing town of Taiji. "It has the breathless pace of a Bourne movie, but none of the comfort of fiction. This is documentary filmmaking at its most exciting and purposeful," wrote Rolling Stone's Peter Travers in a review.
This past weekend, residents of Taiji were able to give their own verdicts after a local activist group, called People Concerned for the Ocean, delivered a Japanese-dubbed copy of the film to each home. In partnership, the producers of "The Cove" also made a similar version available as a free stream on the official website.
Director Psihoyos, who is also founder of the nonprofit Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) said, “The people in Taiji deserve to know what millions of others around the world have learned about their town by seeing "The Cove." Not only are the killings cruel, but the threat of dolphin meat poisoned with mercury is significant. We at OPS hope that when Japanese people watch this film in the safety of their own homes, they may see that a few fishermen's profits have endangered their children's health.”
As I mentioned last summer, attempts to get screenings of the film into local Japanese theaters were met with fierce protests — including threats by violent local extremist groups. Organizers are hopeful that this latest strategy, coupled with the release of the film on DVD throughout Japan, will help change attitudes towards the more than 20,000 dolphins killed each year.