The mayor of Taiji, the Japanese town which conducts an annual dolphin hunt, on Monday protested against the Academy Award given to
, a documentary film about the grisly slaughter of the mammals.
The film, which picked up an Oscar for best documentary feature in addition to a series of other awards, follows a group of activists who struggle with Japanese police and fishermen to gain access to a secluded cove in Taiji, where dolphins are hunted.
It features shocking footage of the slaughter. “I think it is regrettable that the film presents as fact material that is not backed up by scientific proof,” mayor Kazutaka Sangen said in a statement. He emphasised that the hunt was legal in Japan and urged respect for the tradition. “There are a variety of customs relating to food, within this country and abroad. An attitude of mutual respect is necessary.”
The film, directed by former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, is little known in Japan, where the government says the hunting of dolphins and whales is an important cultural tradition.