Photo/IllutrationFilm director Megumi Sasaki in New York (Photo by Satoshi Ukai)

NEW YORK--The town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, was unwillingly thrust into the spotlight following the release of the documentary film "The Cove" in 2009, focusing on its traditional dolphin hunting practice.

The coastal town, known as the cradle of whale hunting in Japan, was subjected to heavy criticism from all over the world.

Now, Taiji is once again in the spotlight, as a new film titled “A Whale of A Tale,” reporting on the controversy and giving a voice to local residents, was released in New York on Aug. 17. This time, Japanese creator Megumi Sasaki has aimed for a neutral approach.

“The theme of the film is not whether or not it is right to hunt whales,” said Sasaki, 56, who lives in New York City. “Instead, the work is asking the question, ‘How should we live together with those who have opinions that are opposite of your own?’ (The controversy over the entire hunting issue) has something in common with the United States during the Trump administration.”

Residents in Taiji have traditionally hunted Odontoceti, including dolphins, from centuries ago.

“The Cove,” which won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, quickly became a hot topic of discussion, as it negatively portrayed Taiji's dolphin hunt.

After watching "The Cove," Sasaki felt that the film’s premise was one-sided as no perspectives of the residents of Taiji were included.

That feeling of uneasiness inspired her to create the new film through visiting Taiji to talk with both local fishermen and activists of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who were opposing their longstanding hunting practices.

“I will never say who is right or who is wrong," Sasaki said. "If you try to push your beliefs on others, there will be a conflict leading to a war.”

In the United States, the majority of people oppose the hunting of marine mammals. After the advance screening of “A Whale of A Tale,” a man who opposes whale hunting said in the question-and-answer session that her film depicts what is going on from a neutral point of view.

In the United States, the public is being increasingly divided between supporters of President Donald Trump and those who oppose him.

One of the film viewers told Sasaki that how the members of the anti-whale hunting group are hounding local fishermen remind him of himself, who is opposing Trump supporters, Sasaki said.

“A Whale of A Tale” is scheduled to be screened for weeklong runs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Sasaski hopes to extend the screenings run and provide more showings.

Sasaki’s comments and highlights of “A Whale of A Tale” can be seen on the Kickstarter website, (here).