Asia Scope

Australia Sees Double Red

Dust storms in Australia had the world caught up in a whirlwind of cyber talk on the topic. But this isn’t the only recent happening that has had Australia ‘seeing red.’ Secretly filmed documentary The Cove is capturing the world’s attention whilst also re-igniting a certain conflict.

‘Australia’ was a hot word on the web this week as a freak dust storm swept through the country’s largest city. Sydney residents took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts (article: ‘Dust Whips up Storm on Twitter’); some describing the landscape as what it must be like on Mars—torrents of powdered wind staining the entire landscape a hazy shade of red. The storm has since moved on and is currently making its way through New Zealand.

Prior to the dust, Australia has been seeing red in a different way towards its Pacific-Rim neighbor, Japan. Over the past few years Australia has teamed up with other nations and conservation societies, to take a hard and public stance on Japan’s allegedly unethical whaling practices.

And they may soon be getting further global support. The Cove is a documentary making waves around the world after exposing another shady side of Japan’s hunting and fishing practices. The US filmmaking team behind the movie secretly recorded the events surrounding an annual drive dolphin hunt in the tiny coastal town of Taiji, Japan. Footage of the surreptitious capture, slaughter and use of hundreds of dolphins (including that for human consumption despite high toxic mercury levels in the meat) by the local Japanese hunters is igniting an international outcry. The Cove has been heralded by top movie critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times contended that although ‘there are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best – a certain Oscar nominee. Meanwhile, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith summed up the film bluntly in his review. ‘Two fins up for The Cove, a documentary that whales on evil Japanese fishermen who kill dolphins for lunch meat.’

The film has also made its mark at industry events around the world, earning various prizes including the Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance and Sydney film festivals.

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It is currently scheduled to be screened at the Tokyo Film Festival in early October. After the screening of the film at the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane film festivals, the Shire of Broome in Western Australia suspended its sister city relationship with the Japanese town of Taiji. It seems that for Australia, the dust hasn’t entirely settled yet.