Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Latest NEWS from Sundance Film Festival - Day 2

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

Day 2
“The Cove” Airs for the Media and Industry, January 19, 2009

Another day and filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and Richard O’Barry have morning-to-evening media interviews. So far we have had reporters from The Economist, Salon.com, and the local Provo Daily Herald stop by, and more on the way.

Last week, Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir had this to say about “The Cove”:

“In the years
since training TV's Flipper (actually two different female dolphins), Ric O'Barry has become the globe's leading activist against dolphin captivity. "The Cove" captures O'Barry's extraordinary "Ocean's Eleven"-style raid on a secluded cove in the small Japanese coastal city of Taiji, where hundreds of dolphins are captured and sold every year -- and thousands more are gratuitously slaughtered. Louie Psihoyos' elegiac and enraging film connects the impotence of international bureaucracy, the bizarre cultural nationalism of Japan, the poisoning and decimation of the world's oceans, and the evidence that we are cruelly mistreating an intelligent and self-aware fellow species.”

Sundance Salon: “Ric O’Barry (left) of Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and “The Cove’s” Director Louie Psihoyos (center) are interviewed by Salon.com at Sundance, one of dozens throughout the week.” Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Filmdom’s own Hollywood rag, Variety, posted a great review of “The Cove” online at:

The Cove

And photos from the movie, including the fine Cove Poster for Sundance, can be found here:

Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

And the rumor is that several studios have already expressed interest in distributing “The Cove.” We know long negotiations are ahead, but the excitement of finally getting this incredible documentary out to the public is palpable. Generally, there is a certain amount of gloom around Sundance, because the economy is making it even harder to sell a movie these days. We believe “The Cove” will beat the odds.

“The Cove” aired this afternoon for media and industry folks only. (The next public showing is tomorrow afternoon, which should be great – it’s sold out.) There will be six more showings this week.

Pam McCann, another outstanding supporter of Earth Island, and Mark Palmer passed out our postcards to the media and movie industry just before the showing.

The Sundance experience is quite entertaining, and not just the constant parties that are going on. (Your virtuous Earth Islander correspondents have only gone to one or two parties so far – can’t quite remember right now… And of course we can’t get invites anyway. One of your humble correspondents does remember giving the cocktail waitress, a stunning blonde, an official Save Japan Dolphins key chain…) Then there is always hanging out on the streets of the small town of Park City.

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

At most showings, the theater is packed with excited filmgoers. When the film stars walk into the theater, there is a rush of people standing and craning their necks to see the celebrities (not to mention thousands of flashes from cameras and phones). The films are watched in rapt silence. And at the end, the crowd is enthusiastic and claps and cheers. Then the Director gets up and introduces the cast and crew to the theater, and they take questions from the audience. Their enthusiasm, in answer to the enthusiasm shown by the viewers, leads to yet more… well… enthusiasm! We have enthusiasm gushing out all over the place! It is, as we said before, an experience, especially if you love movies like we do.

It is really too bad that no dolphins can attend.

Ric O’Barry is amusing this morning. Now that the pressure from the past few days of the premiere of “The Cove” has been (somewhat) relieved, he watches outside the window of the rental unit with undisguised delight. He has NEVER seen people skiing before; he has never gone skiing himself. As a beach bum in Florida, he just never had the chance. Now he is thinking about taking a lesson, or at least riding one of the chair lifts up and down the mountain. Our boss Dave Phillips warned him not to break anything important.

I should also mention that while Ric, as the star of the show gets a nice rental in town with the cast and crew of “The Cove,” we Earth Islanders have more humble (and very much cheaper) lodgings in nearby smoggy Salt Lake City.

More interviews and a public showing of “The Cove” are scheduled tomorrow.

We are keeping our flippers crossed that “The Cove” continues to get rave reviews, attracts a great distributing company, and – just maybe – wins a Sundance award!




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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