Monday, January 19, 2009

The Latest NEWS from Sundance Film Festival - Day 1

By Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director,
International Marine Mammal Project, Earth Island Institute, and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

Sundance Cove Crew: “The film crew and staff for “The Cove” gather for a photo after the premiere at Sundance Film Festival in Park City.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Sundance Jim & Ric: “”The Cove’s” Producer, Jim Clark, and Ric O’Barry of Save Japan Dolphins Coalition at Sundance.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Day 1 - Morning
The Pr
emiere of “The Cove” January 18, 2009

We are here at the Sundance Film Festival, where this afternoon the premiere showing of the new documentary “The Cove” is coming. There is a lot of e
xcitement here. There were more than 800 documentaries submitted to Sundance for inclusion in the Festival; Sundance chose 16, including “The Cove.” We’ve only seen rough cuts of the film before now, and we may not be able to get into the premiere – we have heard that “The Cove” tickets are the hottest tickets in town, and we have not been able to get tickets to the premiere for weeks! Actor and whale conservationist Pierce Brosnan and his wife Keely Shay Smith may attend. In all, there are eight different showings of “The Cove” this week at Sundance.

By “we”, we mean our Save Japan Dolphins Coalition team. This includes David Phillips and Mark J. Palmer of Earth Island Institute, Mac Hawley of the Hawley Family Foundation, and Richard O’Barry, chief spokesperson and strategist of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition. Just to make sure it was a family affair, Mac brought his daughter Julia, who arranged for our team to have matching jackets at Sundance with the Coalition logo on them, and Ric brought his son Lincoln, whom Ric acknowledged before the Sundance audience was a key backup to his work for dolphins for many years.

Sundance Louie & Ric: “Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and Ric O’Barry of Save Japan Dolphins Coalition talk to the audience following the premiere of “The Cove” at Sundance Film Festival.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

“The Cove” is a film by Louie Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society that features the work the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition is doing to stop the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year. The film starts with the hidden cove near the town of Taiji in Japan (hence the name of the film), but it quickly expands to discuss the trafficking in live dolphins for aquariums and “swim-with-dolphins” programs around the world (sale of a few live dolphins from the drive fishery for tens of thousands of dollars each – as much as $150,000 each -- subsidizes the dolphin killers) and the contamination of dolphin meat with mercury poisoning, a direct health threat that the Japanese government is hiding from their own people.

In the end, just as the Japanese people must stop killing dolphins and whales, we all must work together to protect our common oceans and fight pollution, over-fishing, global warming, and other threats to dolphins and whales.

We have postcards that features our Coalition logo and website. We will hand them out to media, theatergoers, and any interested persons who want to save Japan’s dolphins.

Since Ric and filmmaker Louie Psihoyos got to Sundance a few days ago, they have been in interview after interview with the media. Plaudits for “The Cove” have come from such film luminaries as Gore Verbinski and Chris Columbus.

New York Magazine ran an interview with Ric in the current issue. Go to:

The Cove’s Richard O’Barry on Secret Dolphin Slaughter — and Flipper’s Suicide

The Hollywood Reporter had
a strong article, talking with Louie, praising this incredible documentary. Go to:

Commentary: Sundance dolphin doc is really action thriller

Day 1 - Evening
The Premiere of “The Cove” and the Party Afterwards, January 18, 2009

Hard to come up with all the words – the film has been a BIG hit with the crowd here at Sundance.

As Ric says, people cried, they laughed, and at the end of the movie, they asked what they could do. That is EXACTLY what we had hoped for. It can’t get any better than that! We hope the Sundance reaction will be repeated all over the world, ESPECIALLY in Japan.

“The Cove” is like no documentary ever made. It plays almost like a spy thriller, as Louie and his crew plan to film the slaughter of dolphins that the Japanese government has put off limits to all cameras. The ways that the film crew uses to get around this ban make an incredible spy thriller – a REAL spy thriller. Rumor has it
that Japan has issued or will soon issue arrest warrants for the Ocean Preservation Society crew who risked their lives to bring the truth to the world – and especially to the Japanese people.

People cheered through the credits as the film ended. They cheered repeatedly as members of the film crew were introduced. But the biggest reaction came when Ric, who helped narrate the film, came down to the front to be introduced. Ev
erybody in the audience stood up and cheered! It was an emotional moment for all of us.

In the lobby, Actor Pierce Brosnan and Sheely Kay Smith congratulated Louie Psihoyos and Ric for the great job
they did.

And everybody wanted copies of our Save Japan Dolphins postcard!

A good loud party followed the showing at a gallery on Main Street in Park City. Many of the film crew was there, along with those of us from Earth Island Insti
tute and many Hollywood glitterati.

Sundance Cove Party: “After the premiere of “The Cove”, many of us attended the film party at a nice gallery on Main Street in Park City.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Virtually everybody took our postcards, with our Save Japan Dolphins Coalition logo and website. Our website was also featured in the closing credits of the film. There are seven more showings of “The Cove” at Sundance, and we p
lan to give out all our cards over the next few days.

Sundance Dave & Ric: “David Phillips (left), Director of Earth Island Institute, and Ric O’Barry of Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, dis cuss strategy between media interviews and showings of “The Cove”.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

A great deal of planning is still ahead. For the movie “The Cove,” the filmmakers are looking for a major film company to distribute the film all over the world. Louie says that one of the stipulations for distribution will i nclude the preparation of a Japanese version.

At Save Japan Dolphin Coalition, we are working on big plans for the film and our continuing campaign to END the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, and throughout the world. We plan to end trafficking in live dolphins, and we plan to do our part to reduce pollution of the world’s oceans with mercury.

YOUR HELP is the most important component of our work. We have a new Administration and new Congress in Washington DC, and we have a powerful new tool in “The Cove” to bring the shocking story of the dolphin slaughter to the attention of the world. But we need you to help us! We need to you contact yo ur Congressmember’s and President Obama, who will be inaugurated on the 20th. We need you to contact the consulates and the government of Japan.

We need your donations to help fund showings of “The Cove” in Japan, which may raise major problems if the government
continues its censorship of the slaughter of dolphins and whales. The people of Japan need to know the truth! The people of Japan are not the enemy – they really do not know what is going on because the government is hiding the activities of a handful of dolphin killers.

And of course, once “The Cove” starts appearing in theaters, you need to go see it! You need to bring your friends! You need to urge your Congressmember’s to see it! (For example, we plan to, hopefully, set up special screenings in Washington DC.)

Sundance Pierce & Keely: “Actors and environmental activists Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shay Smith congratulate filmmaker Louie Psihoyos at the premiere of “The Cove” at the Sundance Film Festival.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

So, your help is key, you see, to ending the pain and killing of thousands of dolphins each and every year. As “The Cove” ends, ominously, it states that the dolphin hunt is scheduled to begin again this coming September.

Right now, though, we’re going back to the party! The champagne is flowing.

The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition includes In Defense of Animals, Ocean Care of Switzerland, Earth Island Institute, Campaign Whale of the UK, Animal Welfare Institute, and Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan.

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