This morning I wrote director Alejandro Gonzlaez-Inarritu (Biutiful, Babel, Amores perros) about two articles that may result in a problem starting next month, depending how things shake out. One was yesterday’s Variety piece announcing Inarritu’s position as jury president for the Tokyo Film Festival (10.17 through 10.25). The other was an 8.7 article by Salon‘s Katherine Meiszkowski that stated at the finish that the festival “recently decided not to screen The Cove,” the doc about the wretched annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.
A festival spokesperson quoted in the Variety story, written by Mark Schilling, has “denied that a decision has been made [about The Cove]” and said that the festival is “still in the process of sorting out [its] lineup” and that “there will be an official announcement in September.”
So obviously the situation isn’t clear. But one must at least consider that Meiszkowski wouldn’t have flatly written that the festival “recently decided not to screen the film” without qualifying or hedging (i.e., “sources allege,” “it is rumored that,” etc.) if she didn’t have reason to believe that what she heard is solid.
Yes, she may have heard it wrong. It happens. So let’s chill down for the time being. But what if the Tokyo Film Festival in fact intends to blow off The Cove for what would be the most logical or likely of reasons, i.e., political pressure from the fishing industry and/or supporters of the Taiji tourist/fishing industry?
Inarritu, whom I know personally, knows what goes and doesn’t miss a trick. But just as China’s economic support of the Darfur government led Mia Farrow to urge Steven Spielberg to withdraw from a gig as the producer of the Beijing Olympics games lest he be seen as “the Leni Reifensthal” of that event, Inarritu may want to regard his Tokyo Film Festival gig along similar lines. Again, if.
Just as Ric O’Barry, the lead protagonist/hero of The Cove, has been asking Americans to boycott dolphin water shows to protest the dolphin slaughter in Japan, it seemed fair to ask Inarritu to consider declining to serve as the jury’s president if the festival in fact doesn’t screen The Cove. I mean, it can’t hurt to at least mull things over at this stage.
If and when the alleged blow-off turns out to be true, Inarritu serving as jury president would be seen, at the very least, as an unfortunate gesture. It would seem as if he was cool with the festival’s decision. Not to sound like a hard-ass, but it might even be claimed in some quarters that Inarritu — again, if — was deferring to Japanese economic forces that have kept the Taiji dolphin slaughter under wraps for many years. I know this sounds rough. But he knows what I’m getting at.
I’m guessing that this matter will be quietly addressed with back-channel discussions between Inarritu and the festival fathers, but if the festival officially declines to show The Cove and he serves regardless it will look awkward all around. Obviously his call. I wasn’t trying to go all eco-dolphin-nuts on him. I was just sayin’.