Last Tuesday, UC Irvine’s Students Against Animal Cruelty hosted a screening of “The Cove.” The film was directed by Louie Psihoyos, a world renowned National Geographic photographer. Psihoyos attended the screening and was available to answer audience questions after the screening.
“The Cove” is a documentary about the hazardous effects of dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. The film has won 29 awards at various film festivals, as well as being shortlisted for the Academy Awards. But according to Psihoyos, it is not about the awards; the first-time director felt that dolphin slaughter was an issue that needed solving.
“Movies can be $10 and a box of popcorn, or they can change the world,” Psihoyos said, “We’re not making a movie — we’re starting a movement.”
While “The Cove” has turned heads in Hollywood, it has received the majority of its success overseas; ironically, at the Tokyo Film Festival, where the heartbreaking documentary had a bigger response than Avatar, according to Psihoyos.
The documentary exposed the practice of slaughtering dolphins to feed Japanese masses; who were unknowingly consuming meat embedded with mercury. Ingesting an excess amount of this chemical could lead to birth defects and severe brain damage.
The director revealed that the majority of the Japanese people were unaware of this fact.
He went on to claim that the American people love violence in a movie, but no one wants to see it when it is real. To him, “The Cove” is a horror movie – but real.
When asked what could be done to help, Psihoyos recommended not supporting the multi-billion dollar dolphin industry. This includes the popular marine park SeaWorld, which holds dolphins in captivity.
He also asked students to visit www.savejapandolphins.org and sign the petition that asks President Obama, Vice President Biden and Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki to aid in the deterrence of dolphin slaughter.
Psihoyos pointed out that dolphin killing would not be prevented because the immorality of killing dolphins would no be sufficient in deterring dolphin slaughter. Rather, as Ric Barry, former dolphin trainer, notes in the documentary, the only method to discourage people would be through spreading the urgent message of human poisoning through consumption of dolphin meat.
Psihoyos has been promoting the film for around a year now and believes, “this time next year, I think the cove will be shut down,” emphasized Psihoyos.
Psihoyos also passionately discussed the severity of coral reef deterioration and the general lack in knowledge of the importance of sustainability and carrying capacity.
Psihoyos and his crew went to dangerous lengths to pursue the film.
The Japanese government wanted to sue the makers of “The Cove,” arguing that an integral portion of dolphin killing is as a part of Japanese culture, according to Psihoyos.
Psihoyos also stressed that the footage of dolphin slaughters happening in the cove of Taiji, Japan is not meant to convey hostility toward the country.
“This, to me, isn’t a Japaneese bashing movie. It is a love letter,” Psihoyos said.
When asked about future projects, the new director did reveal his plans about doing a movie with Greenpeace on the international organization’s 40th anniversary in 2011.