Distributor Unplugged attributes cancellation to protests and threats from right-wing groups.
The June 26 Tokyo release of Louis Psihoyos’ Oscar-winning documentary The Cove has been cancelled indefinitely, distributor Unplugged announced in a late-night press release issued today.
The film was set to open at independent cinema Theater N Shibuya in one of the city’s busiest movie-going districts.
Unplugged attributed the last-minute cancellation to continuing harassment and protests from a right-wing group who has branded The Cove as a “terrorist film” and a racist critique of Japan.
The group made repeated phone calls to Theater N warning them not to show the film. Additionally, the group gave the cinema and its publishing parent company advance notice of street protests to be held upon the film’s release.
Concerns over causing disturbances and annoyance to neighbouring businesses or residents run high, particularly in a city as densely populated as Tokyo.
Unplugged president Takeshi Kato commented on the cancellation. “The Cove is not an anti-Japan film but one that could spark constructive debate. It’s disappointing that a film about Japan can’t be seen at cinemas in Japan.”
The lack of a flagship Tokyo release puts the remainder of the film’s planned national rollout in doubt. Some 26 screens across Japan had agreed to show The Cove, with further sites in negotiation.
Nonetheless, Unplugged has vowed to carry on. “We will continue to discuss the situation with exhibitors and make the greatest efforts to get the film shown,” stated Kato.