Exploring Deep Secrets: Sundance Institute Film Series Presents The Cove

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Park City, UT – An advocacy documentary can be measured by its ability to bring an unrecognized issue to glaring illumination and to inspire a filmgoer to take on the cause as one of their own. The 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner The Cove managed to do both to such an extent that last month, the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan began very differently from previous years. Sundance Institute returns to Park City the part-spy thriller, part-exposé documentary, The Cove, on Wednesday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m. at the Park City Library. The monthly Sundance Institute Film Series highlights powerful storytelling supported by the Sundance Institute and its spectrum of programs.

The screening of The Cove is made possible by support from Principal Sponsor Zions Bank, Major Sponsors Summit County Recreation, Arts, and Parks Program, Salt Lake County and the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, with in-kind support from City Weekly, KRCL 90.9 FM Community Radio, KXRK “X96” 96.3 FM, Park City Film Series, Park City Marriott, ParkCityWeek.com and UtahFM.

The Cove centers on the seaside town of Taiji, Japan, where for six months out of the year, local fisherman capture dolphins as part of a billion dollar seaquarium industry. Dolphins not sold for captivity are slaughtered for meat, despite high levels of mercury. At the center of the movement to stop the hunt is Ric O’Barry, the trainer of TV’s 1960s Flipper, who after a radical change of heart, began a decades-long crusade to free dolphins. In order to confront the Japanese government’s denial that a large-scale cruelty occurs in Taiji, O’Barry and director Louie Psihoyos set up an Oceans Eleven-type team to go undercover –and underwater– to film a hunt that had largely remained unacknowledged and unseen by the world.

Called “a powerful and effective piece of advocacy film” by Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, The Cove has gone on to win more than a dozen awards at international film festivals and has led to an outpouring of support for the cause. Last month, following the hunt’s delayed start, 70 out of 100 dolphins were freed after the first week’s catch, in part to international pressure that it be discontinued. The Cove is set for its first screening in Japan later on this month at the Tokyo International Film Festival, where it was added to the program following public outcry after the film’s initial rejection.

Director Louie Psihoyos (rhymes with Sequoias) has been widely regarded as one of the top photographers in the world. He was hired out of college to shoot for National Geographic and continued to work for them for nearly two decades. An ardent diver and dive photographer, he co-created The Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) in 2005. The non-profit organization aims to provide a lens for the public and media to observe the beauty as well as the destruction of the oceans while motivating change. Psyihoyos will be facing possible arrest on trespassing charges later on this month when he attends the screening of The Cove in Japan at the Tokyo International Film Festival.


Sundance Institute invites you to step inside the world of independent filmmaking each month with the Sundance Institute Film Series. Part screening, part discussion, we’ll showcase work supported by Sundance Institute and give you an opportunity to meet the filmmakers and discuss the films. Additional Sundance Institute Film Series events this season include:

Feature Film Showcase: Don’t Let Me Drown Wednesday, November 4, 2009 | 7:00 p.m.
Rose Wagner

(Directed by Cruz Angeles)
Cruz Angeles first brought his film to the 2004 Sundance Institute Directors Lab, and five years later the film premiered at the 2009 Festival. Join him for a discussion moderated by Sean Means, Film Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, following the screening of a film about two Latino teens whose lives are affected by the attack on the World Trade Center.

Inside the Festival: We Live in Public Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | 7:00 p.m.

Park City Library

(Directed by Ondi Timoner)

Winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary

Learn about the Festival from staffers before a screening from a filmmaker who has had three films screen at the Sundance Film Festival. In her third film at the Festival, Timoner offers a fascinating ten-year chronicle of internet pioneer Josh Harris as he launched an art experiment involving more than 100 artists living in a New York City bunker under 24-hour surveillance. Timoner couples Harris’s footage from his exhibitions with rousing vérité of her own for a sexy, yet cautionary tale where we all become Big Brother. Screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director.

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival. Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry, Sin Nombre and Born into Brothels.

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