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Three-time Academy Award® nominee Johnny Depp plays celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith in a real life David vs Goliath story, pitting Smith against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning the people of Minamata, Japan in 1971.
New York, 1971. W. Eugene Smith (Johnny Depp) is a celebrated photo-journalist and photo-essayist, but he feels devoid of inspiration. He is at such a low ebb he even considers suicide. Then a Japanese-American woman Aileen (Minami) shows up to convince him to come to the Japanese coastal city of Minamata, whose community has been ravaged by mercury poisoning, the result of decades of gross industrial negligence by Japan’s Chisso Corporation.
Eugene eventually agrees to go, with the reluctant and secret support of Life Magazine head Robert Hayes (Bill Nighy). With Aileen, Smith immerses himself in the community, documenting the people’s efforts to live with Minamata Disease and their passionate fight to achieve recognition and compensation from Chisso. It is a life-changing experience — one which brings Eugene redemption, love, new purpose and his greatest-ever photograph. A photograph that will change the world and provide desperately needed fuel to the fledgling environmental protection movement.
MINAMATA is a moving redemptive story of how one man’s powerful photograph impacted the world, yet in order to find it he had to open his heart.
Official Selection Berlin International Film Festival 2020 - Berlinale Special - World premiere


Running Time
115 min
Andrew Levitas
Sam Sarkar, Kevan Van Thompson, Andrew Levitas, Johnny Depp
Executive Producer
Stephen Deuters, Jason Forman, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Stephen Spence, Peter Touche
David K. Kessler, Stephen Deuters, Andrew Levitas, Jason Forman
Director of Photography
Benoît Delhomme
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Principal Cast
Johnny Depp, Hiroyuki Sanada, Minami, Ryo Kase, Jun Kunimura, Katherine Jenkins, Bill Nighy

Production status


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Last updated 12th February 2020

Production Company

US, UK co-production

A Metalwork Pictures (UK), Infinitum Nihil (US) production in association with Head Gear Films (UK), Kreo Films FZ (AE), Metrol Technology (UK), Work in Progress (RS)

Metalwork Pictures
+44 (0)20 3911 9199


HanWay Films
8 Basing Street
W11 1ET
+44 (0)20 7290 0750