By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 9, 2010 at 6:16AM
The Works International has announce the acquisition of Louie Psihoyos's Academy Award-nominated documentary "The Cove" by Japanese distributor Medallion Media. Medallion is planning a tentative release date of April 2010 in Japan.
Until now, Japanese distributors have shied away from the documentary, which uncovers dolphin slaughtering in a Japanese village, and was the source of significant controversy in the country when it was included in the line-up of the 2009 Tokyo Film Festival after initially being rejected. Despite threats of legal action by fishermen from the town of Taiji featured in the film, the festival scheduled another screening after the first sold out within hours.
"Most Japanese are unaware of the annual dolphin cull that takes place in Taiji and also the significant risks of mercury poisoning from the eating of dolphin meat which the film so effectively exposes," The Works International said in their press release. "In spite of continued opposition from the Taiji fishermen, Medallion Media recognized there were many people keen to see the film."
"In distributing 'The Cove' we are not taking sides," Norio Okahara, Director of Medallion Media said in a statement. "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.
"Making 'The Cove' was personal for me because I was poisoned by mercury from eating too much of the wrong kind of fish," Louie Psihoyos said in a statement. "I hope that 'The Cove' will prevent people in Japan from getting mercury poisoning caused by eating toxic dolphin meat. When we first went to Taiji, dolphin meat was being distributed in the school systems for children's lunches, which is troubling because mercury has the most deleterious effects on small children. Most disturbing is that much of the dolphin meat, as determined by DNA analysis, was being sold as whale meat. A recent study done by Japanese scientists shows that the residents of Taiji have 10 times the acceptable amount of mercury in their systems. That makes it more then just an animal rights issue - this is a human health concern. I believe in my heart that when the Japanese people see this film, they will be inspired to help solve this issue."