A film by Megumi Sasaki
2018, 95 minutes
No. 185

In 2010, the sleepy fishing town of Taiji in Japan suddenly found itself in the worldwide media spotlight. The Cove, a documentary denouncing the town’s longstanding whale and dolphin hunting traditions, won an Academy Award and almost overnight, Taiji became the go-to destination and battleground for activists from around the world.

What might at first seem like a black-and-white issue however has proven to be more complex. Directed by Megumi Sasaki (the filmmaker of the beloved documentaries Herb and Dorothy and Herb and Dorothy 50x50)A Whale of a Tale revisits this story, but discovers a different perspective - and a different question. Can a proud 400-year-old whaling tradition survive a tsunami of modern animal-rights activism and colliding forces of globalism vs. localism?

Featuring a wide range of characters including local fishermen, international activists and an American journalist (and longtime Japanese resident), this fascinating and thought-provoking documentary unearths a deep divide in eastern and western thought about nature and wildlife and cultural sensitivity in the face of global activism.

"A Whale of a Tale is a corrective, countering The Cove’s agitprop sensationalism with a measured and nuanced curiosity…. It paints a complex picture of the clash between globalism and a fast-disappearing localism." – Village Voice

“A thoughtful documentary that presents another side of the story… A sort of de facto sequel to 2010's Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.” – Hollywood Reporter

"Sasaki is pointing to a long cultural practice that has collided with an enraged west that has purged itself of whaling... The dolphins slaughtered in Taiji aren’t considered at risk of becoming extinct, so the hunting throws up broader questions. Do we have the moral right to kill animals in this way? What about pigs and cows dispatched in miserable conditions in the west? Who has the right to tell who what to kill or eat?" – The Guardian