Principal photography has started on Minamata as of January 31. Andrew Levitas, acclaimed artist, filmmaker and writer is responsible for directing the expected hit. Three-time Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Johnny Depp playing celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith.
Joining the cast is an impressive line up of incredible and recognised talent including Bill Nighy, Minami, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Ryo Kase and Jun Kunimura.
Set to be an exceptionally moving story of how one man’s powerful photograph impacted the world to take notice, Minamata takes its basis from the novel, A Hard Day’s Day, by Alieen Mioko Smith and W. Eugene Smith. Adapted by David K. Kessler, the film is to be a redemptive thriller, a real-life David versus Goliath story. It pits Smith (Johnny Depp) against the powers of the corporation responsible for poisoning the people of Minamata, Japan, 1971.
Smith has become a recluse with the glory days of WWII coming to an end, leaving him disconnected from both his career and the society around him. That being said, when an editor and old friend (Nighy) makes an appearance in his life again, Smith is convinced to return to Japan, and expose the truth about the harrowing annihilation of a coastal community, where people fell victim to complicit local police, corrupt government and corporate greed.
As Smith embarks on his adventure, armed only with his trusted camera, he must learn to gain the trust of a struggling and broken community, while finding the images that will being the truth of the story to the attention of the planet.
Production for Minamata has included time spent in the place itself, meeting and speaking with some of the victims and their families – the film is being created with their support. The victims’ cases against the corporation responsible for the environmental disaster illustrates one of the biggest pay-outs ever recorded. Present day sufferers of Minamata disease remain in court at the present day, seeking the compensation they deserve.
“I am thrilled to be working with such a talented and dedicated team on the story behind one of the most devastating and relatively unknown catastrophes of the past 100 years,” said director Andrew Levitas. “Told through the eyes of the extraordinary W. Eugene Smith, widely regarded as one of the most passionate, ground-breaking and uncompromising photojournalists of the 20th century.
“In his bid to bring the world’s attention to atrocities including the bloodiest conflict in human history, World War II and the horrors of Minamata he put his own life at risk to bring the truth out in his work and capture some of the most poignant images ever taken. Every one of the cast and crew is determined to make the people of Minamata’s voices heard as we begin shooting this film.”