Owing to “online slanders, intimidating phone calls and veiled threats of violence” from Japan’s nationalist fringe, not a single movie theater in Japan has screened The Cove, Louie Psihoyos’s popular 2009 documentary about dolphin-hunting in Japan. The film, which depicts dolphins being harpooned to death in a private lagoon in Taiji as a result of the aquarium trade and local meat market, also warns of dangerously high levels of mercury poisoning in fish. According to the Times:
“Three theaters canceled runs of the film in early June after [nationalist Shuhei] Nishimura’s group warned on its Web site that it would stage demonstrations outside two theaters in central Tokyo. Twenty-three others are still mulling whether to show the film. Not one is currently screening it.”
Of course, there’s always the Internet: “The service company Niwango plans a free streaming of the film on Friday, though for only 2,000 viewers.” But the film’s distributor is pushing for a theater run:
“I had a sense of mission,” said Takeshi Kato, president of the film’s distributor in Japan, Unplugged. “I knew from the moment I watched it that this issue was something the Japanese needed to see and think deeply about.”
Now there’s fear that the film will never be officially screened in Japan, but the lengths to which some are going to make that happen should certainly pique more interest in it.
Related: The Legacy of Flipper [NYM]