A documentary about fish — bluefin tuna specifically — SUSHI explores the cultural significance of the cuisine as an art form, an industry, and a soon to be endangered species in the eyes of environmentalists.
The film eases the viewer into the world of sushi as a delicacy, and as a fast food option, but doesn’t shy away from shining light on the treatment of fish and overfishing practices of the industry. Told mainly through interviews with fishermen, scientists, even chefs like Tyson Cole of Uchi sushi bar, the global appetite for bluefin tuna is in demand, and at a high price.
Director Mark Hall, a former lawyer turned filmmaker, begins documenting the explosion of sushi in his home town of Austin, Texas, which led him to extend his research across the globe. We soon learn that sushi is also quite popular in Poland.
What was particularly fascinating about the subject is how an iconic Japanese food, is not entirely from Japan, rather imported from Australian coast, Canada, and the US into Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. The tuna is then auctioned off to buyers from all over the world to be served in high end restaurants in cities such as New York, being a major destination. Those fish definitely get around, with a significant carbon footprint.
The film introduces efforts made by entrepreneurs to sustain bluefin tuna, by the creation of specialized fish farms out at sea in Australia- Port Lincoln, as well as containment tanks in laboratories that give complete control over the water tank environment for the fish. The debate between farmed or wild bluefin, and the preservation of food favorite is serious business, even to Green Peace.
With engaging footage, and interviews SUSHI succeeds in communicating a serious problem. If you’re a foodie, or simply a fan of sushi interested in knowing where the fish you are consuming comes from, this film is definitely worth viewing. And though while the documentary is mainly focused on bluetuna fish, with no mention of whale or dolphin meat, (a practice still active in Japan), the film covers quite a lot in the span of time.
Sushi: The Global Catch is set to have an early 2012 theatrical release in North America.