Production is underway for the film Minamata, directed by Andrew Levitas and starring three-time Academy Awardnominee and Golden Globe winner Johnny Depp as celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith.
Bill Nighy joins the cast of Minamata which will co-star Minami, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano and Jun Kunimura. The famed Yôko Narahashi (Earthquake Bird, Unbroken) is the casting director on the film which is currently underway in locations in Japan, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Minamata is based on the book by Aileen Mioko Smith and W. Eugene Smith and adapted by David K. Kessler. The redemptive thriller, a real-life David versus Goliath story, pitts Smith against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning the people of Minamata – Japan in 1971. Minamata is an extremely moving story of how one man’s powerful photograph impacted the world to take action.
With the glory days of World War II far behind him Smith (Depp) has become a recluse, disconnected from society and his career. But an old friend and a commission from “Life Magazine” editor (Nighy) convinces him to journey back to Japan to expose a big story: the devastating annihilation of a coastal community, victims of corporate greed and complicit local police and government. Armed with only his trusted camera, Smith must gain the trust of this struggling community and find the images that will bring the story to the World.
The victims’ case against the corporation responsible for this environmental disaster represents one of the biggest payouts of all time, with present day sufferers of Minamata disease still in court today seeking compensation. Production has spent time in Minamata meeting some of the victims and their families and the film is being made with their support.