Oscar-nominated dolphin hunt film to get Japan screening

Thu Mar 4, 2010 7:21am EST
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By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - An Oscar-nominated documentary on the grisly business of dolphin hunting in Japan is set to be screened at cinemas nationwide for the first time later this year, but with some modifications, its distributor said.

"The Cove," which has been shown in 15 countries and already won several awards, follows a group of activists who struggle with Japanese police and fishermen to gain access to a secluded cove in Taiji, southern Japan, where dolphins are hunted. It features shocking footage of the slaughter.

The film is little known in Japan, where the government says the hunting of dolphins and whales is an important cultural tradition.

"It's about Japan, but this has been the only place where it couldn't be seen," Takeshi Kato of distribution company Unplugged said on Thursday, just ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony.

Kato has arranged for the film to be shown at five cinemas in major Japanese cities in May or June and hopes to expand the number to about 20.

"They are not dolphin protectionists, nor are they on the side of the hunt," he said of the cinemas that have chosen to show the film. "They want to show it without taking sides."

After receiving complaints from Taiji, Kato is in the process of altering the film for the Japanese market. He has agreed to blur the faces of the fishermen and add a note about disagreement over mercury levels in dolphin meat, which is sold as food and served for lunch at schools in the area.

Taiji's association of fishermen declined to comment on the movie's screening and no one was available to comment at the local government office.   Continued...