Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Latest NEWS from Sundance Film Festival - Day 3

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

Sundance Cove Crew: “Louie Psihoyos, Director of “The Cove”, introduces the cast and crew behind his documentary after the second public screening at Sundance.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Day 3
Morning: “The Cove” Airs for the Public as President Obama Assumes his Office, January 20, 2009

Will President Barack Obama be the best environmental President we have ever had?

In Washington DC this morning, President George Bush left town with his Administration, at last! Over the past eight years, the Bush Administration has been the most aggressive and effective government for destroying the entire Earth that this country has ever seen.

Whales and dolphins have suffered immensely, as President Bush killed the moratorium on drilling for oil offshore of the United States West and East Coasts (upheld by every other US President since Richard Nixon) and fought to weaken the Dolphin Safe tuna label so Mexico and other nations can label their tuna – stained by the blood of dolphins – as “Dolphin Safe.” The latter effort was blocked by Earth Island legal action in federal court, thank goodness, but Mexico has just filed a challenge before the World Trade Organization urging that international agency to brand the “Dolphin Safe” label as a barrier to free trade.

Little known to the public, the Bush Administration also launched negotiations at the International Whaling Commission to resolve differences between the government of Japan (which kills whales in violation of the world moratorium on commercial whaling, ostensibly for scientific research) and the conservation-minded nations. Unfortunately, the Bush negotiators are bending over backwards to reach some kind of deal to allow Japan to expand commercial whaling, including so-called “coastal whaling”, of which the Taiji dolphin drive hunts are the most conspicuous components.

In other words, Bush and Company have ended decades of US efforts to save whales and dolphins from the cru
el harpoons.

And will President Obama be the best environmental President we have ever had? That remains to be seen. The new President obviously has immense problems left behind by the Bush juggernaut – issues of war and peace, issues of the economy, issues of energy use. Numerous lobbyists, consultants, Representatives and Senators, and foreign nations will also pressure President Obama on all of these issues, including the inevitable voices saying “slow environmental regulations” and “we can’t afford to protect the environment.”

So, I go back to my original question: Will President Obama be the best environmental President we have ev
er had?

Indeed he will, IF YOU AND I HELP HIM! You can make a difference, and help make sure President Obama works to save our oceans, not destroy them!

Earth Island Institute and members of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition are working with other environmental groups in Washingto
n DC to get the facts to the Obama Administration to put a stop to these deadly negotiations.

Shortly, we will be po
sting on our Action page information on how you can help the dolphins and whales with the new Administration!

Meanwhile, back at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, it is go go go as usual. Ric O’Barry, Director of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, and Louie Psihoyos, Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society and Director of “The Cove,” continue to give interviews to the media. Excellent reviews continue to come out.

Today is the second showing to the public of “The Cove” movie at Sundance, and I am packing my camera, my computer, and my Save Japan Dolphins Postcards to head over to the theater.

Day 3
Afternoon: “The Cove” Airs for the Public, But Your Humble Correspondent Was Too Late, January 20, 2009

I’m sitting outsid
e the Library Theater at Sundance, where I am missing “The Cove” showing for the public. I suppose I could have been obnoxious and pushed my way in, but I have already seen it, so I let the rest of the ticket holders who were late squeeze in ahead of me.

This is SUCH good news
for the movie, as the Library Theater is sold out – all 440 seats! As I noted on Day One at the premiere, the Temple Theater with a little more than 200 seats was also sold out, and Sundance patrons were turned away.

So, I am sitting in th
e hallway, waiting for the end of the movie so I can run in to take some photos of the filmmaker’s Q & A at the end for the Blog and for the film crew, which has been so generous to all of us with the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition.

I am not wasting my time. In addition to writing this Blog, I am passing out our Save Japan Dolphins Coalition postcards to everyone in the hall – other late ticket holders, staff of Sundance, and the myriad young kids marching back and forth through the hallways, as this is indeed the Park City Library and many kids are here to work on their crafts.

Any moment now, the film will end, the lights will come on, and I will duck into the theater to take my pictures…

Day 3

Evening: “The Cove” Airs for the Public and Gets Two Standing Ovations for Louie and Ric, January 20, 2009

Sundance Ric’s Ovation: “Ric O’Barry, Director of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, gets a standing ovation from the audience after the second public screening of “The Cove” at Sundance Film Festival.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

Hard to believe, but as I snuck into the last 5 minutes of “The Cove’s” second public screening at Sundance, my eyes teared up again at the ending!

I won’t go into details on the film. It would only spoil it for you. You have simply got to see it for yourself. Be prepared to cry, to laugh, and to be inspired.

As one viewer, a young documentary filmmaker himself, told me, this is the one film he has seen or heard about at Sundance that sent chills up his spine as he watched.

And the crowd went wild. I forgot to mention that during the ending credits at the premiere of “The Cove” on Sunday, whenever a name came on the screen (the director, the producer, the music writer, the editor, etc.), the crowd cheered for that person. They did so again at this screening today!

This time “The Cove” did not get one standing ovation. “THE COVE” GOT TWO STANDING OVATIONS! One when Director Louie Psihoyos was introduced and immediately after when Louie in turn introduced Ric O’Barry. Needless to say, there were many excited questions from the audience about what could be done.

Sundance Hug: “Louie Psihoyos, Director of “The Cove”, gets a huge hug and wears a huge grin following the second public screening of “The Cove” at Sundance Film Festival.”
Copyright Mark J. Palmer

One lady in the audience stated she would never bring her children to Sea World’s captive dolphin shows again. That got yet another round of applause.

Virtually all our Save Japan Dolphins postcards have been handed out.

Day 3
Evening Redux: Where is Kristen Stewart? January 20, 2009

And where, oh where, is Kristen Stewart?? You may know her from her star-making performance in the recent movie “Twilight”. I fell in love with her (as did every other male in the audience). And she was here in town, walking the streets of Park City with friends. And I missed her!

The sacrifices I make for dolphins!!???!

Oh well. Kristen, if you are reading this Blog (and I’m not sure why on Earth you would do that) know that I love you, and you have my heart forever. And tell your co-star to get a new hairstyle. (Vampires with bad hair are, y’know, like soooo uncool…)

If only I were about 30 years younger or 100,000 times richer than I am now…

On a more important note (Harumpfff!): Will “The Cove” be honored at Sundance with an award? The suspense is killing me…


At the risk of sounding like a broken record (Boy, THAT phrase sure dates me!), we cannot end the dolphin slaughter by ourselves. We really do need your help to save Japan’s dolphins (as well as dolphins and whales elsewhere in the world).

Many of us have been fighting for dolphins and whales for a good many years (almost 38 years for yours truly – even more for Ric O’Barry), and we have had some very significant victories. Far fewer whales are being killed anymore, mostly by Japan. Essentially no dolphins are being killed anymore by most world tuna fleets (in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, before we at Earth Island began our campaign in the late 1980’s, about 80,000 to 100,000 dolphins were being killed in the tuna fishery; last year fewer than 1,000 were reported killed.) But there is much more to do.

We need public support – volunteers, letter-writers, peaceful demonstrators, and donors – to save Japan’s dolphins.

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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