The director of a secretly filmed documentary that shows the annual dolphin hunt of a Japanese town said Tuesday he’ll give the town the profits from screenings in Japan — if they end the hunt. Louie Psihoyos, who could face arrest on trespassing charges from making The Cove arrived at the Tokyo International Film Festival and said he was prepared to face the consequences of making the documentary.
Police have repeatedly questioned the covert shooting of key footage in the documentary, which shows fishermen making noise to drive dolphins into a hidden cove and killing them with spears.
The documentary has set off an international uproar among conservationists, and the tiny coastal town of Taiji has said it has stopped killing dolphins. The annual hunt brought in about 2,000 dolphins a year.
The Cove was added to the festival at the last minute and will screen Wednesday in its Japanese premiere.
“If we can get the film out to the Japanese people, I think it will be a huge victory for the Japanese people,” Psihoyos told The Associated Press.
“I think it’s going to be a huge win for the dolphins. Those are my real clients.”
But he said he would not visit Taiji because he wanted to avoid trouble with the local police.
“I don’t want to provoke them any further. I’ve done a film, and I think I’ve done a great film,” he said.
Psihoyos said he hopes the fishermen will use the film’s profits in Japan for whale-watching and other businesses, instead of for killing dolphins for meat and capturing them for aquariums.
“Any of the money that is generated out of Japan, if they stop dolphin-hunting, will go to Taiji,” he said.
Psihoyos said he hoped to sign with a Japanese distributor for nationwide screenings.
The Japanese government defends the killing of dolphins and whales as part of regional tradition. Festival organizers have publicly expressed worries about the film’s inclusion.
So far, Japanese media attention to The Cove has been muted. Most Japanese have never eaten dolphin meat and are unfamiliar with the hunts.
“Once the Japanese people see this film … I think they will shut down the cove,” Psihoyos said. “This is not an animal-rights film. This is a people’s rights film for the Japanese people.”