Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Covin' In

Louie Psihoyos' disturbing dolphin-killing doco The Cove, which opened here last week, seems to be making quite a splash about the place. Which is what it's intended to do of course. The subject matter is so sensitive that the Tokyo International Festival has refused to screen it, citing the film's highly critical stance on Japan's environmental policies as the reason for the rejection. Psihoyos said the decision was "hypocritical", since the festival's theme this year involved protecting the environment.

Another side effect has been the parting of ways between the Australian coastal town of Broome and Taiji, the Japanese village where the dolphin killings take place. Broome and Taiji have been sister cities since the late 19th century, but pressure from residents in Broome have forced the town to sever their historic ties until the slaughter stops. It's also, unfortunately, invited anti-Japanese sentiment there - which is one of the concerns Psihoyos and a Japanese audience member raised when he spoke after the film's second screening at the NZ Film Fest back in July.

Although I don't think Psihoyos has made an anti-Japanese film in any shape or form - and he does point out that the average Japanese citizen does not know about nor do they condone these killings - such extreme, racially motivated reactions seem inevitable, since it depicts strong stuff that inspires strong emotions, and strong emotions often overwhelm reason and perspective.

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