Protests, threats leave pic's backers uncertain

The wave of cancellations hitting the Japanese release of helmer Louie Psihoyos’ Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” is growing.

According to local press reports, three theaters in the northern cities of Sendai, Yamagata and Aomori have decided not to open the doc, about the annual dolphin slaughter at Taiji, Japan, as skedded on June 26.

Meanwhile Tokyo’s Meiji U. has pulled the plug on an on-campus screening of “The Cove” that was to have been followed by a Q and A with pic advisor and dolphin activist Ric O’Barry.

University officials said they feared Thursday’s screening would interfere with classes.

The university group sponsoring the event, the Contemporary History Research Society, said in a statement that it wanted “the university to think carefully about the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Constitution.”

On June 3 and 4, two theaters in Tokyo and one in Osaka nixed screenings of “The Cove” under pressure from rightist activists, who threatened to park trucks outside the theaters fitted to blare out noise, disrupting neighborhoods, if the pic opened as scheduled.

O’Barry, who is in Japan to promote the film, said of the cancellations: “Why are they so scared about the truth about the dolphin slaughter getting out? Because they know that it’s indefensible — tragically cruel — scientifically insupportable.”

Distrib Unplugged has vowed to proceed with the release, originally announced for 26 screens around Japan.

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