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Senior to screen thesis on whaling industry

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 4:30 p.m. 302 Frist Campus Center
Senior Danny Samit will screen his senior thesis, a 93-minute documentary film on Japanese whaling, at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in 302 Frist Campus Center.

An East Asian studies major, Samit spent six weeks in the small coastal whaling village of Wada working on the project, titled "Kujira." Twenty-six Baird's Beaked whales are captured there annually.

Wada is one of the last remaining traditional whaling villages in Japan, and the film intertwines unprecedented footage of the town and its butcher house with interviews with townspeople, scientists and environmentalists. Samit planned, filmed and conducted interviews for the project in Japanese, and filmed butchering sessions usually closed to public view.

He convinced hesitant whale butchers and townspeople to speak with him, as well as conducted interviews in Tokyo at the Institute of Cetacean Research and Greenpeace Japan to gain a variety of perspectives on the whaling industry.

Samit has studied Japanese and Mandarin Chinese at Princeton, attending the intensive summer language programs Princeton-in-Beijing and Princeton-in-Ishikawa.

He credits his work as a research assistant to Amy Borovoy, assistant professor of East Asian studies, with helping him to prepare and conduct his anthropological research in Japan. His main adviser was Richard Okada, professor of East Asian studies, while renowned documentarian and filmmaker Philip Haas, a lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, has acted as his technical and aesthetic adviser. The George Shultz Fund and the Center for the Study of Religion also have supported the film.

Next year, Samit plans to return to Japan as an ITO Foundation Scholar to pursue a master's degree in Japanese studies while making his next documentary film.

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