The Cove wins the Oscar

7 March 2010

The ingenious, funny and tragic expose of a brutal dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan, wins the top American film award for a feature documentary. The producers of the movie expect the recognition to help widen awareness of it in Japan, where it is due to be released in early summer.

Director Louis Psihoyos accepted the golden statue with producers Paula DuPré Presman and Fisher Stevens along with advocate Ric O’Barry, who was the leading character in the documentary. Never one to pass up an opportunity, O’Barry unfurled a sign with the text-message number for supporting the Save Japan Dolphins campaign.

The film tells the true story of how an elite team of filmmakers, activists and free divers penetrated the closed community of Taiji to document the horrific capture and slaughter of dolphins in a small cove. Some of the animals are culled to supply the world’s water-parks with performing dolphins; the others are dragged from the water dead or dying and cut up for sale in Japanese markets. Part of the story line focused on the high levels of contaminants, especially mercury, in the meat. The toxic load convinced two city council members to oppose the use of dolphin meat in school lunches.

The renowned award and surrounding publicity is expected to spread news of the film’s story in Japan, where most people are unaware of the dolphin kill or the unhealthy meat. A distributor who is planning the film’s release has agreed to add a disclaimer about the controversial findings and to digitally disguise the faces of individual fishers involved.

The Cove's Louis Psihoyos, Charles Hambleton and associates followed up their Oscar success with the revelation of a sting operation in a California sushi restaurant. With tiny cameras, they video-taped proof of the restaurant openly serving whale meat. Samples tested by Dr. Scott Baker of Oregon State University revealed that the sushi was sei whale meat, from a population hunted by Japanese in a purportedly "scientific" program. Federal officials are now pursuing the restaurant's illegal possession of whale products.