Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Latest NEWS from Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

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

More Praise for “The Cove”, February 5, 2009

After a rousing reception at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award (determined by votes by Sundance audiences), the film “The Cove”, featuring the work of Ric O’Barry and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, is continuing to get lots of attention.

Laurie David and Kelly Meyer (David produced the Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”) on the HuffingtonPost say:

Laurie David and Kelly Meyer
Posted February 2, 2009 | 02:48 PM (EST)
The Cove: Truthful Filmmaking at Its Best

Last night a few friends gathered to watch The Cove, the audience award-winning film from Sundance everyone is buzzing about. Not since An Inconvenient Truth has a room been silenced into such abject shock coupled with an intense desire to act. The Cove accomplishes exactly what great documentaries are supposed to -- it moves you, engages you, thrills you, enrages you.

The Cove is its own quirky hybrid -- part action film, part heist, part environmental justice battle cry, with a very real modern day hero, Ric O'Barry. Remember the beloved 1960s television show Flipper? Well O’Barry was the trainer of that dolphin. He came up with the techniques and the idea of capturing dolphins and taming them. As a result, along with a hit TV series, an entire captive dolphin industry was born. Maybe your kids recently visited a "swimming with dolphins" exhibit on their last spring break. Ours did.

Anyway O’Barry has spent the last three decades trying to undo the damage he believes he set into motion. A more heartbreaking protagonist doesn't exist.

O’Barry and his team risk their lives to take us deep inside the dolphin trade in Japan, exposing a practice so disturbing that no judge or jury with a conscience would allow it.

Now we have to face the truth. This film is going to make headlines and it's going to lead to major reforms because that is what powerful, truthful filmmaking does at its best. Audiences will demand action. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but the dolphins' fate, and ours too, hang in the balance.

Joel Reynolds is an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who has worked for many years on environmental and marine mammal issues. He recently saw “The Cove” and had this to say on NRDC’s website:

Fighting for the Lives of Marine Mammals in “The Cove”
By Joel Reynolds
Director of NRDC's Urban Program, the Marine Mammal Protection and So. California Ecosystem projects, Santa Monica, CA
Posted February 2, 2009 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

Every once in a while there is a movie so good it's astonishing, and this morning I saw one. It's called The Cove, and it has just been screened at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and standing ovations. The film, directed by Louie Psihoyos and produced by the Oceanic Preservation Society, chronicles former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry's heroic campaign to stop the killing of 2,000 dolphins every year in the Japanese coastal village of Taiji. In the 1960s, O'Barry trained the animals that collectively became known as Flipper to TV viewers - an experience that he has spent decades trying to undo because of the role the television show played in creating the captive dolphin industry in the United States and around the world. He came to believe that dolphins should never be captive, and he has tirelessly campaigned to end the inhumane treatment of these undeniably intelligent, self-aware creatures.

The Cove is a riveting tale, told with skill, substance, and relentless drama. The place that gives rise to the film's name is a secretive cove in Taiji, Japan, and the film tells the story not only of what goes on in this hidden place but the lengths that O'Barry and his team had to go to expose it. The Cove is promoted as "an intelligent/action/adventure/Ocean's Eleven-like horror film wrapped around a tale of redemption and ultimate revenge - oh, and it's a documentary." It justly deserves, and was recently awarded, the Audience Award at Sundance.

This could have been, but is not, a punishing series of images of relentless cruelty. Instead, it places the Japanese fishery in a cultural, historical, and political context, tying it, for example, to the captive dolphin industry and to the failure of the International Whaling Commission, the only international forum devoted exclusively to the regulation of whaling but which, inexplicably, excludes any jurisdiction over, and therefore protection for, dolphins, porpoises, and other small whales. Claiming that the dolphins are "pests," depleting the world's fish stocks, the small group of fishermen who make their living in the cove do everything they can to prevent the outside world from learning what they're up to. Nothing seems to matter, including the health of their own children. Because dolphin meat is toxic, containing levels of mercury that vastly exceed safe levels, the fishermen have no where to go with the dolphin meat they produce but to serve it to children in mandatory school lunch programs or to market it to Japanese consumers as falsely labeled whale meat.

An international coalition has been working to stop the fishery that is the focus of The Cove and to protect the thousands of dolphins that are driven to their death there each year. has information on steps we all can take, including sending letters to the Japanese Embassy and to President Obama. This movie is a remarkable achievement, and everyone should see it. I hope they'll get the chance.

Our thanks to Laurie, Kelly, Joel and the many other enthusiastic viewers!

We will post information on distribution of “The Cove” when it becomes available. Negotiations between “The Cove’s” filmmakers and studios for distribution rights are ongoing. It is intended that “The Cove” be seen in movie theaters around the world, including a Japanese-language version.


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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.