The Cove vs The Japanese Right

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Last year, a pretty good movie called The Cove came out, a documentary about cruel treatment of dolphins in Japan. It’s not the kind of thing you expect to get wide release anywhere, but if anyone should be interested it’s Japanese people. But apparently so far no theaters will agree to show it:

And if Shuhei Nishimura and his compatriots on Japan’s nationalist fringe have their way, none ever will.

In a country that shudders at disharmony and remains wary of the far right’s violent history, the activists’ noisy rallies, online slanders, intimidating phone calls and veiled threats of violence are frightening theaters into canceling showings of “The Cove,” which not only depicts dolphin hunting in an unflattering light but also warns of high levels of mercury in fish, a disturbing disclosure in this seafood-loving nation.

Bad times. Ultimately digital distribution and the trend toward everyone having bigger TVs should reduce the gatekeeper role of movie theaters, which will be good news for this kind of controversial film.