Friday, October 23, 2009

“The Cove” Screened in Tokyo

by Richard O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

The Tokyo International Film Festival tried very hard to bury “The Cove” Movie, but I think their efforts backfired on them. By trying to keep the media away from the film and the audience, they made the story much bigger than it might have been.

“The Cove”, as you know, was originally passed over by the Festival board in favor of much safer, non-controversial movies, such as Disney’s “Oceans” movie, which opened the Festival. However, thanks to pressure from the US, including our friend actor Ben Stiller and the Festival’s Jury President Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Festival relented and agreed to screen “The Cove.” This was the first screening of “The Cove” in Japan where the general public could buy tickets.

The Festival then scheduled the screening in the morning on a workday, but “The Cove” sold out within an hour of tickets being made available! The Festival refused to schedule a second screening to accommodate the many who could not get tickets (including, incidentally, the town Council of Taiji). The audience actually applauded at the end of the film – one critic said it was the ONLY film where the audience applauded during the Festival.

The many reporters and camera operators who showed up were told by the Festival not to ask questions and not to interview filmgoers. They were allowed only briefly into the auditorium during a short question & answer session with Director Louie Psihoyos. Then they were apparently kicked off the property!

A great CNN story tells this sad tale of suppression:

And here is a New York Times story giving the reaction of ordinary Japanese who saw “The Cove”. So often, we only hear from government officials or the fishermen who kill the dolphins. Clearly, we are on the right track in getting “The Cove” out to the public in Japan:

Louie was the real hero of the day. He and his crew worked long and hard on putting together an excellent dub in Japanese of “The Cove.”

He also decided he would go to Tokyo personally to screen “The Cove” and answer questions. He was risking arrest, but felt he had to go to present his film and to talk with the Japanese. Fortunately, there was no arrest, and the screening went very well indeed. While several of the protagonists (including the Taiji mayor and the gentleman known in the film as “Private Space”) were in the room, none spoke, and Louie fielded questions like a pro. Generally, the questions were all pretty supportive, and even questions that could have been very hostile were asked in a polite manner.

Special thanks are owed to our Coalition team in Japan, including David Kubiak, Michael Bailey, Kyoko Tanaka, and to the amazing work done by Louie Psihoyos of OPS and Carl Clifton of The Works.

What happens now? This is the big question.

There is some interest after the screening from some Japanese distributors, so a wider audience may see “The Cove” in theaters.

I’m convinced we need, when appropriate, to get it out to the Japanese people in many ways – online, as DVDs, and in special screenings that our campaign pays for around cities in Japan. “The Cove” is a powerful statement and getting it out will go a long way towards ending the killing of dolphins and whales. But it will take a lot of money to get it out and seen in Japan.

Louie, acting on a suggestion by my son Lincoln, offered to screen “The Cove” in Taiji for the town Council and the people, but has not received any reply. Lincoln and I are working on following up for a screening in Taiji. Louie further generously offered to give the profits from “The Cove” screenings in Japan to the town of Taiji if they agreed to stop killing dolphins. “The Cove” also opens this coming Friday, October 23rd, in Europe.

There are many other things we need to do for the campaign beyond the movie, too. We need to continue to get the word out about mercury contamination, and help conduct more research on the dolphin fishery and the health threat it represents to the people of Japan. We need to push the Japanese media especially to look into the mercury issue.

I plan to go back to Japan soon, to continue to keep the pressure on and bring reporters and TV cameras with me. We have been willing to work from the beginning with the people of Taiji to encourage tourism and dolphin-watching as a replacement for killing and capturing dolphins, but they need to know we will not go away until this issue gets solved.

Your support has helped us enormously during these hectic days! Please consider giving a donation to help me and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition crew go back to Japan and Taiji:

Click Here to Donate

Thanks again for all your support!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Broom, Australia Reverses Suspension of Sister-City Tie w/ Taiji, Japan

Help Needed.

The Broome Shire Council has voted to reverse its suspension of its sister-city relationship with the town of Taiji due to the slaughter of dolphins. While their new resolution includes some language recommending “alternative economic opportunities similar to those that have seen Broome flourish through tourism and promotion of its natural marine resources and landscape beauty", it is unlikely the fishermen of Taiji will accept such support in exchange for stopping the slaughter of dolphins (including pilot whales).

This is a dangerous and misguided step, and we must fight against it. If the Broome Council sincerely desires to support the people of Taiji, how can it condone the distribution and sale of mercury-laden dolphin meat to the people of Japan, including many schoolchildren?

We urge you to continue sending letters to the Broome Shire Council to end support for the Taiji dolphin slaughter. You can take action here:

9,000 letters have flooded into Broome in the past 2 days urging the Council to hold on to its brave position. They should not give in to the intense pressure from the Japanese government and the city of Taiji. Too much is at stake.

Keep up the pressure by sending letters at:

Read the article at:

Check our blog for latest updates at:

Thanks for your help. We need to keep the pressure on and not give in to the counter pressure coming from Japan.

Ric O’Barry & David Phillips
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

The Cove Exposed - Issue 5

Dear Friends of Dolphins:

The fishermen in Taiji released 70 bottlenose dolphins in September, and our team from Save Japan Dolphins was there to film it – you will likely see this footage soon. The fishermen are still killing pilot whales (apparently reasoning that they can get away with killing “whales,” but not “dolphins”). I have been telling the international media over and over again: “Pilot whales ARE dolphins, and they have the highest levels of mercury of any species tested.”

We have accomplished much, but we still have a long way to go.

Photo © Mark J. Palmer
Join Me in TAIJI

Next week, on October 21st, one of the most important milestones will take place in our campaign: The Cove movie will be screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Director Louie Psihoyos and some of our friends from Hollywood are planning to attend.

As you know, the film festival originally did not want to screen The Cove, despite the theme of the festival being the environment. (They even are boasting of a green carpet, instead of a red carpet!) But international pressure, including the efforts of comedian Ben Stiller and others, changed their collective minds. The Cove was added at the last moment, but for a screening at 10:30 AM on a Tuesday – hardly an auspicious time, especially in Japan where virtually everyone has a very rigid work schedule.

But, thanks to your help and the help of our grassroots friends in Japan, I’m pleased to say that the screening is now sold out!

(However, we have just learned that the Taiji fishermen are calling the theater and the Film Festival demanding that the screening be canceled. They may mount a protest outside the theater or even try to block the entrance.)

Working together, we can indeed make monumental changes. I believed that when I first started this campaign with the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition in 2003, and I believe it now.

Here’s one gesture I really appreciated: The students of Darien School in Connecticut held a bake sale to help the dolphins, donating $309 (that’s a lot of brownies!) to our Save Japan Dolphins campaign. They want to help educate and mobilize high school students across the country for the dolphins. This is the kind of grassroots dedication that is dearest to my heart.

I’ve received e-mails from around the world: Singapore, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Poland, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, and more.

We believe the Tokyo screening of The Cove, which is being dubbed into Japanese by Louie and the Oceanic Preservation Society crew, will be a major step in getting the word out in Japan about mercury poisoning and the slaughter of dolphins and whales.

Your support has been key to our efforts, and I hope you take pride in our small but important accomplishments we have made so far to stop the slaughter. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are great! I really appreciate all the e-mails and the donations.

Ric O'Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

P.S. our progress would be entirely impossible without the actions and donations that you are making.

Click to Donate


Tell Broome Shire not to Back Down! Until recently, Broome, Australia was the sister-city of Taiji, Japan. Broome cut ties with the remote fishing village after seeing the feature documentary The Cove, which exposed Taiji’s role in the yearly slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the shores of Japan. Broome took a courageous stand.

Now, under intense pressure from the Japanese government, the Shire Council of Broome is considering reversing its position. Don't let them do it!

Our sources indicate that the suspension is a key reason why the dolphin kills have been halted. If the Shire Council reverses, the killing is likely to resume. We need your help today!

Sign the Petition: Our Facebook petition is now up to 350,000 sign-ons. We are pushing for 1 million signatures by December 1st. Please sign it, and get your family, friends and neighbors to sign it too!

If you are in Europe, The Cove movie opens in many theaters on October 23rd. The DVD is scheduled to be released in the US in December.


Help the Dolphins: Ecojoia, run by the dynamic sister/brother team of Julia and Ry Hawley, is producing our official Save Japan Dolphins campaign t-shirts, hats and jewelry. They are generously sharing their profits with our campaign. Please visit their website:

Wear Fine Art for Dolphins: A lovely lady, diver and jewelry designer, Temple St. Clair is offering beautiful gold dolphin pendants and rings, with 40% of the sales going to support Save Japan Dolphins. Visit her website at:


Australia 60 Minutes recently joined Ric in Taiji.

Ric’s Facebook Chat: At the end of his recent trip to Taiji, Ric conducted a Facebook chat. You can hear his answers to many of your questions.

Campaign in the UK: The UK Telegraph ran a feature story in their magazine about The Cove movie and our campaign. Author Mick Brown traveled with Ric and the Save Japan Dolphins team to Taiji.

Back Issues:

The Cove Exposed, issue #4 - 9/22/09
The Cove Exposed, issue #3 - 9/1/09
The Cove Exposed, issue #2 - 8/31/09
The Cove Exposed, issue #1 - 8/25/09

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Urgent Alert for Dolphins

By Richard O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

Dear Friends of Dolphins:

I’m in London now, promoting the opening of The Cove movie here.

But I need your help to stop the Broome Shire Council from backing down from their courageous action in suspending their sister-city relationship with the town of Taiji.

Broome’s Shire Council voted to cut ties with the remote fishing village after seeing the feature documentary “The Cove,” which exposed Taiji’s role in the yearly slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the shores of Japan. I personally thanked Broome for this action.

Now, under intense pressure from the Japanese government, the Shire Council of Broome is considering reversing its position. Don't let them do it!

Our sources indicate that the suspension is a key reason why the dolphin kills have been halted. If the Shire Council reverses, the killing is likely to resume. We need your help today as the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Australia!

We were able to stop the dolphin slaughter at least temporarily -- but we must keep the pressure on!

Tell Broome: Stand strong against dolphin slaughter!