Oscar nod huge for “The Cove” and its cause

There was celebration Tuesday at the nonprofit Ocean Preservation Society in Boulder, Colo., as their searing study of dolphin slaughter in Japan received an Academy Award nomination in the best feature documentary category.

“It’s a great feeling,” said director Louis Psihoyos. “It’s my first film, so we were just hoping to get into Sundance a year ago. It feels like we overshot our mark a little bit.”

“The Cove,” which is out on DVD, has not yet been shown in Japan but Psihoyos said he hopes that the film will get a Japanese distributor soon and be seen there by year’s end.

“The reason why I’ve been secretly coveting an Oscar nomination is because the Oscars are the most watched show on Japanese television,” Psihoyos said. “This Oscar nomination is a public relations nightmare for their Ministry of Health and the Japanese Fisheries Ministry who have been trying to cover this up for decades….It will really make it worth it when they shut down the cove.” He added that the film will let people know that “these animals are being killed…When we got to the cove, they were carving up these animals and force-feeding them to school children.”

He estimated that over 2,000 dolphins are killed each year in the cove and more than 20,000 in Japanese waters overall by people who view dolphins as pests. “The Japanese people don’t know this is going on.”

He also urged people who haven’t seen the film to download it legally on iTunes so that his organization receives the money to make more movies on important social issues. He said downloading the movie illegally is equivalent to stealing from a nonprofit, which he termed “sinful.”

But Tuesday was a day for the director and his colleagues to celebrate. Being nominated for an Academy Award is “huge,” he said. “It’s the Holy Grail of awards.” And, for small films like “The Cove” which don’t have advertising dollars, “it’s the ultimate billboard.”

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