By Keiko YAGI


Social issues - Completed 2015

In 2010, THE COVE, a documentary about dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan, won an Academy Award. Was it a well-crafted story using sensationalized techniques to tell a one-sided portrayal of the problem? Why has there not been a film from Japan responding to THE COVE? Well, now there is.

& Awards

Montréal World FF 2015
    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Social issues, Environmental, Documentary
    • Countries
    • JAPAN
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 105 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Keiko YAGI
    • Producer(s)
    • Keiko YAGI (YAGI FILMS)
    • Synopsis
    • First-time documentary filmmaker Keiko Yagi enjoyed eating deep fried whale cutlets when she was a child. The general lack of this dish and negative news coverage on the never-ending whaling issue prompted Yagi to find out more about the topic.
      Yagi was aware of the 2010 documentary THE COVE, but had not bothered watching it, regarding it as another exaggerated attack on Japan’s dolphin hunting.
      But in 2014, the UN's International Court of Justice ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling program in the Antarctic, based on Australia’s argument that it was ‘commercial whaling in disguise’.
      This gave Yagi a sense of urgency and fear that whale meat would soon completely disappear from Japan. Armed with nothing but a video camera to record her findings and a passion to know the truth of the matter on whaling, Yagi started her research, which eventually led her to Taiji.
      Until she arrived there, Yagi did not know the significance of the town of Taiji in the whaling debate, and that it was the hub for anti-whaling activist groups including Sea Shepherd. Since the release of THE COVE, the small whaling town had grown tired of the attention and presence of the media - Japanese or otherwise - and had been refusing to do interviews. Yagi ended up staying in Taiji for four months, and slowly some of the townsfolk started to allow her to interview them, including a retired elderly whalers and the mayor of the town.
      After watching THE COVE while in Taiji, she discovered that not everything in THE COVE was presented with a balanced approach, after talking to the locals.
      Yagi also got to know the anti-whaling activists who set up camp in Taiji every year during the dolphin-hunting season, and learnt how they think and operated.
      To get a balanced and greater understanding of the picture Yagi also interviewed experts in the whaling world from Japan and overseas, including past and present Japanese commissioners to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), scientists and researchers.
      Yagi would even go to Washington DC, USA, in pursuit of a document that is crucial in understanding how the international debate on whaling started.
      Gradually director Keiko Yagi discovers the larger mystifying aspects lying behind the international political whaling debate, which has never been clarified to the public. Something much larger than just THE COVE.