LOS ANGELES —
‘‘The Cove,’’ a U.S. film about a controversial annual dolphin hunt at a Japanese town, won the best documentary feature at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles.
Directed by Louie Psihoyos, one of the world’s most prominent still photographers, the film depicts, partly through the use of hidden cameras and microphones, the capture of dolphins by local fishermen in the whaling town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.
After screenings in selected countries such as Japan, Australia and the United States, the documentary provoked criticism against the hunt, while local fishermen defended it as part of a Japanese tradition, saying the practice was not bloodthirsty as they built memorials for the dolphins.
Reacting to the Academy Award, fishermen in Taiji voiced anger, saying they were misleadingly described as ‘‘Japanese mafia.’’ A senior official of the local fisheries cooperative association rejected an interview, saying, ‘‘Whatever we might say, it will just help advertise the movie.’‘
Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen said, ‘‘Dolphin hunting is not an illegal activity. It is necessary to respect each culture’s diet, based on an understanding of regional traditions.’‘
Negotiations are under way with a distributor in Japan, although no release date has been set yet.