"The Cove": An Eco-Documentary On The Dolphin Slaughter Of Taiji, Japan (VIDEO, POLL)

Directed by National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos, inspired by expert dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, and produced by the Oceanic Preservation Society, The Cove chronicles the filmmakers' quest to end the senseless slaughter of 23,000 dolphins annually in the coastal village of Taiji, Japan.

This eco-documentary employs the skills of an undercover SWAT team by using hidden microphones and disguised cameras to capture the inhumane dolphin massacre that takes place in the secluded Japanese cove. Taking on the tone of a spy movie, the filmmakers use investigative filmmaking to expose the cruel butchering practices. Additionally, the cameras capture the Japanese government's hazardous disregard for public health through the marketing of the dolphin meat, which contains toxic levels of mercury, as whale meat in supermarkets throughout Japan. The Japanese government has also issued a moratorium to censor the media's coverage of the whaling issue.

Vince Darcangelo of Boulder's DailyCamera chats with director Psihoyos, a Boulder resident, about the movie's unusual and adventurous filmmaking.

The stealth nature of the project transformed the film, however, into something more than a traditional documentary. Psihoyos soon realized that the narrative of how his team captured the footage needed to be part of the film. The filmmakers now had starring roles, and a nature doc took on all the elements of an action movie. "It's not your normal kind of film. It's got all the excitement of an 'Ocean's Eleven,'" Psihoyos says. "Every time that we go into the cove, the plot gets bigger, the stakes get raised.... It's a movie that spirals and gets bigger and bigger and bigger."This movie grips people emotionally," he adds. "You get their adrenaline going." [...] That said, "The Cove" is also not a scientific lecture, and it's got plenty of drama to keep the viewer engaged. The danger of the film shoot, and the lengths to which the team had to go to capture footage, makes "The Cove" as entertaining as it is informative.

An outpouring of celebrity support has sprouted from Hayden Panettiere who ventured to Taiji to protest the slaughter, Ben Stiller who introduced the film at the Hollywood premiere, Pierce Brosnan who blogged about the impact of the movie, and George Lucas' Industrial Lights & Magic which invented fake rocks in order to disguise film cameras in the cove's depths.The Cove won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Treehugger's Roberta Cruger provides monetary estimations about the brutal dolphin slaughter of Taiji.

Primo bottlenose dolphins fetch $150,000 for sea parks and the dead dolphins garner $600 a piece. By my calculations it's a $15 million business, minimum. That's based on an estimate of selling a dozen dolphins to seaquariums around the world with the remaining 22,898 killed in a primitive and cruel way, which leads me to believe these 26 fisherman aren't earning the lionshare of the income.

NRDC's Joel Reynolds explains the history of the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) failure to prohibit the massacres.

Although the IWC banned whaling in 1986, Japan still kills almost 1,000 great whales each year under the guise of "scientific research" as well as an additional 23,000 dolphins and porpoises every year. Unfortunately, the IWC provides no protection for small marine mammals like the dolphins slaughtered at Taiji.

Watch the trailer below.

Watch an interview with director-activist Louis Psihoyos below.

The movie will be released on August 7th. It is currently playing at select theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Find a theater near you.

The Cove's website offers an interactive sub-site for fans to become involved in the campaign for the protection of the Taiji dolphins.