The Cove To Be Screened in Tokyo, One Time Only

Tokyo Film Festival poster
Initially, the Tokyo International Film Festival passed on screening The Cove, the documentary about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Though it didn't offer a reason, considering the government's media ban on whale/dolphin news due to the controversy involving Japanese whaling, it was no surprise. Ironically, the theme for this year's festival is: "Action for Earth 2009." So what happened?Though the Tokyo International Film Festival, running October 18-26, didn't mention it, 30 percent of its funding comes from government support. Considering The Cove isn't likely to get distributed in Japanese cinemas anytime soon--if ever-- the festival was the best bet for getting the documentary viewed there. So, the producers who believe the Japanese people are unaware of the slaughter in Taiji, planned to post it online.

Keep out danger sign photo

But then, unexpectedly and with no explanation, TIFF reversed its decision and decided to screen The Cove during the 22nd annual event, though with a disclaimer that it isn't liable in any dispute arising from the screening on 10/21. So far, as reported in Treehugger, there seems to have been a false sense of hope that Taiji's fisherman halted their attack on dolphins.

Mandy and whales photo

Last year, Tokyo's film festival went "green" with a recycled plastic carpet and sustainable initiatives. This year, TIFF steps it up, opening with the world premiere of Oceans by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, a spring 2010 Disneynature release.

As part of the green theme, Toyota is sponsoring the "Nature" segment of environmental films during the nine-day fest. The line-up includes Saving Luna, Earth, An Inconvenient Truth, and world premieres of Ashes from the Sky and Silent Voice, Silent Color - about the Japanese Akiko tribe preserving the legacy of naturally dying their weaving. Other films focus on animals and man in the natural world:
Wolf-- reindeer herdsman in the Siberian pastures
The Tree Lover--an urbanized film crew return to the woods of northern Sweden
Another World--a ranger in Gran Paradiso National Park in the Italian Alps
Oil Rocks: City Above the Sea--the world largest oil-platform built by Stalin

"Films. The power to change our world."

The chairman of TIFF, Tatsumi Yoda, explained the motto:

Cinema, a global language, constantly adapts to reflect its era. The greatest films inevitably address the most compelling social issues of their times. One of the most urgent problems we now face is protecting the Earth's environment. While many individual films have grappled with how to sustain our environment, no international film festival has yet stepped up to champion this issue. This is why we are gathering filmmakers here in Tokyo to think about how to care for our planet and propose solutions. We hope our ideas will resonate far beyond the film community, contributing to the global conversation on our planet's future. By engaging with the environmental crisis as filmmakers, we can find new ways to imagine our relationship with the Earth. Because we make films, but the Earth made us."

We'll see if screening The Cove changes anything for the dolphins in Taiji or the Whale Wars that Captain Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd is waging against Japanese whalers.

More on The Cove updates (in chronological order):
The Cove - Trying to Save 23000 Dolphins from Slaughter
The Cove is Empty - Taiji's Dolphin Slaughter Suspended
Bad News at The Cove - Taiji Dolphin Hunt Begins
More News from Taiji: 70 Dolphins Released and Quota Drops

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