Louie Psihoyos’ documentary Oscar nominee The Cove is to finally get a release in Japan, more than a year since its world premiere at Sundance.
The move comes as The Works International announced it had sold rights to Medallion Media to the stirring story of dolphin slaughter in the Japanese fishing town of Taiji.
Medallion has set a tentative April slot. Until now Japanese distributors had shied away from the film in the light of the subject matter and the controversy sparked by the Japanese premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival last October.
Fishermen from Taiji, whom Psihoyos documented as they culled dolphins trapped in a bay, initially threatened legal action following the sold out screening in Tokyo. However festival organisers went ahead and scheduled a second screening.
Besides the dramatic night vision footage of the fishermen in action, The Cove highlights the possible risk of mercury poisoning from eating dolphin meat.
“In distributing The Cove we are not taking sides,” Medallion director Norio Okahara said. “Rather, we are presenting the film for the Japanese to decide for themselves about the issues it raises. There is a debate to be had here and this important film – and the Academy Award nomination only serves to reinforce its importance – offers the opportunity for such a debate.”
Joy Wong negotiated the deal with Media Co’s Norio Okahara.
The Works International’s managing director Carl Clifton, said, “Many distributors screened the film and most decided it was simply too hot to handle even if they all felt it must be seen by the Japanese people. Medallion Media has shown real courage in acquiring The Cove for Japan and we look forward to working with them on it.”