Ever since the release “The Cove,” I believe that there has been an increase of awareness about the mismanagement of our oceans resources, a response that is both commendable and remarkable. We need more of this type of work, so it is gratifying that Mark S. Hall made the very necessary and unforgettable “Sushi – The Global Catch,” under the umbrella of Alive Mind Cinema and Kino Lorber, among others.
The documentary begins at the end, so to speak. The filmmakers take us to several Sushi restaurants in Japan, where master sushi chefs, such as Mamaro Sugiyama (Sushiko restaurant, opened since 1885) and Yasuharo Ida (Sushi Iwa restaurant) are interviewed and tell us about the history of sushi and what makes a great sushi chef. In addition, there are interviews with Kazuo Nazaki, who has a knife shop in Tokyo, and who sells traditional knives for sushi shops. From there we are taken to the famous Tjukiji Market, in Tokyo, which is the largest fish market in the world. We are presented interviews with Makoto Nozue and Hiroyasu Itoh, two experts – or dealers --on tuna fisheries and pricing, who know how to evaluate the price of each specimen based on certain characteristics, such as the condition of the eyes. One tuna fish can reach the price of $400,000!! Itoh says that his company sold 109,565 tons of tuna in 2008. From then on, tuna – specifically Blue-fin tuna -- becomes the subject of the film, as this fish is the most exploited in the oceans, with a 60 to 80% reduction of its population worldwide.
After discussing the final destination and use of tuna in the sushi world, we are then introduced to some experts on tuna ecological preservation., including Mike Sutton, director of the Center for the future of the Oceans, in Monterrey, California; Barbara Block, from Stanford University, expert on Blue-fin tuna; Greenpeace members who fight the overfishing of tunas both in the field and in the media; sushi chefs that are looking for alternatives, as well as research scientists that are trying to farm Blue-fin tuna in the lab and in the ocean in Australia, and much more. We are informed that 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone, and that by 2048 100% will be gone if we don’t act. And, as one chef says, “One thing I’m sure of is we will run out of tuna sooner than we will run out of oil.” Much awareness should be kept on China, where sushi consumption is increasing significantly. In the end, someone else said, “Consumers’ decision will be the one, not the government.”
“Sushi – The Global Catch” is perfect in the way it delivers its message. The interviewees were both from the commercial field, as well as the scientific community. It really reaches your heart and mind, and should be a must for every citizen of this planet. (USA, Poland, Japan, Australia, Singapore; 2012; color; 75 min)
Reviewed on December 9, 2013 for by Eric Gonzalez for Kino Lorber – Alive Mind Cinema