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PubRecord Call to Action – The Cove

September 6, 2009

Please see below for an update on this story.

This is the first installment of The Public Record’s “Call to Action” documentary review series. We’ve included links at the end of the review to assist readers who would like to obtain additional information and, most importantly, become active.

The Cove

This week, the small town of Taiji, Japan will be flush with cash. The next couple of months for this coastal community will be their boon season, for this is when the dolphin drive happens.

More than 20,000 porpoises and dolphins will be herded into a lagoon in this unassuming tourist town over the next handful of months. Some will be chosen for places like Sea World and aquariums but the majority will be slaughtered. The National Parks Conservation Association estimates that the number of bottlenose dolphins (the most popular dolpin, see: Flipper) specifically around Japan are as low as 37,000.

“We tried to do the story legally” – Louie Psihoyos

Louie Psihoyos, the film’s director started out as a photographer – shooting in extreme locations around the world, from photographing portraits on the top of Egypt’s pyramid’s to the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. After spending more than a decade shooting for National Geographic magazine, Louie co-founded OPS, the Oceanic Preservation Society. Over those years he made lots of friends in Hollywood. The type of friends that would be useful when you’re making a film like ‘The Cove.’

The film crew reads more like a roster of a Hollywood action film than that of a nature documentary. This “Ocean’s 11″ crew – a joke that the director makes at the beginning of the film – includes: a former George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Sound crew member; two free-dive record holders; an avionics technician; and a treasure hunter. And of course that doesn’t include Taiji’s most hated man – Ric O’Barry. Rick carries of his shoulders the guilt of being the creator of the worlds worship of dolphins. He’s the trainer (and catcher) of the five dolphins that acted as TV’s Flipper. After Kathy, the main ‘Flipper,’ died in his arms Ric was arrested the next day for trying to free a dolphin out of a local aquarium, thus starting his career as an activist. He’s spent the past 4 decades freeing dolphins from captivity and is the Director of SaveJapanDolphins.org

This crew was tasked with filming the dolphin kill in a cove surrounded by sheer mountain walls, barbed wire and roaming guards. If any of them we’re caught, arrest would certainly follow and then deportation from Japan.

The Cove is more of an action film than a documentary – add Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts and you have yourself a multi-million dollar blockbuster. And a plot with the contortions of any of the Ocean’s 11 franchise. Except this is better – because it’s all true. Military grade thermal video, rocks that hide HD video cameras and under water sound for ambiance – they all build to a crescendo that any Hollywood action film could only dream of.

Read the rest at PubRecord.org

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