Please ignore that idiotic news story linked to by Movie City News about yesterday’s Tokyo Film Festival screening of The Cove (or more specifically about a letter of complaint from a Taiji fisheries cooperative plus a bullshit threat to sue over suspected “factual errors”). And focus instead on a first-person account of the screening by Cove director Louie Psihoyos, posted a few hours after the screening.
“Today was surreal,” he describes. “Teams of news crews were turned away and banned from the film festival property. The festival planners roped off the green carpet so I had to take an escalator up to the in the screening. It was obvious they didn’t want any more press on The Cove screenings. There wasn’t a single poster up of The Cove around the grounds or the theater. Just a piece of paper taped onto the theater doors saying ‘The Cove.’
“I was shuffled away from the news crews and taken through a series of hallways and warned not to walk around because of protesters. I didn’t see any protesters.
“I had asked to introduce the film, and looking around the audience I saw many of the main characters in our film. Is that Private Space? Look, that’s the Taiji Mayor, and Moronuki. And some of the fisherman [only dressed] in suits? There’s Joji’s predecessor from the Japanese International Whaling Commission Komatsu himself, who is famous for his quote, ‘Whales are the cockroaches of the oceans.’
“I was deep into enemy territory but I was armed with the most powerful weapon in the world — a film.
“The Mayor of Taiji couldn’t get tickets because the screening was sold out, so I had offered him [a] ticket allotment so his city council could attend as well. In the end it was deemed too expensive for them all to come, so I had faxed him an invitation that OPS would screen The Cove for the whole town of Taiji for an Ocean Film Festival.
“The q & a [following] the screening was mostly silent from the dark forces. Really though, how can they defend what they just witnessed?
“Moronuki got to see even more of the killing footage that I flashed to him on my iPhone in the film, but not in context with the rest of the movie. Now there he was, a few rows from the front, smiling blankly like his worst nightmares had become real and everyone in the room had come to share them. That must be what it’s like to be a politician caught on a film taking a bribe. I felt like somebody could have set him in a coffin, folded his hands over his chest, buried him and he wouldn’t have resisted.
“Komatsu, who wrote the definitive book on the Japanese defense of whaling, had his head between his knees and was frantically rubbing his temples as if trying to poltergeist a migraine. If everybody else around him wasn’t in shock, I think they would have gotten him a doctor.
“The mayor of Taiji stormed out like a man in need of a restroom. He didn’t come back. I don’t expect he’ll be following up on the offer of a Taiji Ocean Film Festival anytime soon. Lots of fishermen in nice suits with their lawyers in attendance were slinked down and shielding their faces. There were numerous threats to sue TIFF if the film was shown.
“The question came up, and I said, ‘The dolphin hunters said they were proud of their profession, so what are they afraid of? The Taiji mayor said they only closed off the cove because of danger of falling rocks. I watched the cove for weeks and didn’t see any falling rocks. So I put in some of my own to see for sure.’ That got laughs from the ex-pat community and the mostly sympathetic Japanese community.
“I told the audience that as much as we all feel that the film is about animal rights, the way to win the argument is through human rights. Dolphin meat is toxic, all of it. The meat violates Japanese Health laws, and I called for the new Ministries of Health under the new political party to enforce their health laws. The LDP was in power in Japan for 53 years. Since WWII. A corrupt oligarchy whose four-lane highways to nowhere are the stuff of legend. They subsidized the whaling industry with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The new government is shutting down those large construction projects, and of course were all hoping whaling gets shut down too.
“I told the audience that if Japan shut down whaling and joined the International community on this issue, their economy would soar. I said whale watching has earned far more money than whale killing has ever made, even when one compensates for the value of money then and now. All whaling and dolphin killing accounts for only 1/10th of one percent of the toothbrush market in their huge economy, but it stains their international reputation to no end.”