Film "The Cove" seeks to expose dolphin killings

Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:46pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A tense new film shows Japanese fishermen luring thousands of wild dolphins into a hidden secret cove in Japan where activists say they are captured for marine amusement parks or slaughtered for food.

"The Cove" follows a team of activists including former dolphin trainer from the "Flipper" television series Ric O'Barry.

They battle Japanese police and fisherman to gain access to a cove in Taiji, Japan, where barbed wire blocks people from filming dolphin killings that begin in September each year.

The documentary opens in the United States on Friday but has yet to receive distribution in Japan, where O'Barry says 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are legally killed each year.

The Japanese government said it has done nothing wrong and cites cultural differences in response to the film.

Dolphin meat is eaten by a very small percentage of Japanese people.

The film has already been praised by critics and won the audience award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. "Eco-activist documentaries don't get much more compelling than 'The Cove'," said Variety's review.

O'Barry, who has been visiting Taiji several times a year for the past eight years and now wears disguises in the town to avoid the attention of fisherman and the police, predicted the film would have a big impact.   Continued...

<p>Videographer Lincoln O'Barry, producer Ben Stiller, actor Richard O'Barry and producer Fisher Stevens (L to R) attend an advance screening of "The Cove", a film about dolphins and a secret cove in Japan, in New York July 15, 2009. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine</p>