Documentary filmmaking is changing the way we view animals

By on June 21, 2016 with 5 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

I hope you’ll take three minutes right now to watch a trailer for an exciting and remarkable new film about the struggle to build a more humane food production system in the United States.

As I wrote in The Humane Economy, there are many explanations for the amazing progress we are seeing in different sectors of our economy when it comes to animal protection. There’s legislating, litigating, corporate campaigning, and so many other tactics put to use to drive change. Without question, there’s more information flowing about animal-related issues, and social media attention, journalism, book-writing, and documentary filmmaking have been central means of raising awareness and then prompting people of conscience to effect reform. The collective works of so many creative people are changing the way we think about animals.

There’s a growing body of compelling documentaries on animal issues out there. “Food, Inc.” pulled the curtain back on factory farming. “The Cove” exposed the barbaric capture and slaughter of dolphins in Japan. “Blackfish” revealed a troubling history at SeaWorld. Films like “Earthlings,  “Forks Over Knives,” and “Vegucated” have also had a profound impact on our thinking about animals.

I’m very excited about the soon-to-be-released “At the Fork,” done by John Papola and his team at Emergent Order and supported by Whole Foods Market and The HSUS. It’s an in-depth exploration of the current state of animal welfare on farms throughout the United States, with the filmmakers touching the moral complexities of raising animals for food, ag-gag laws, bird flu, extreme confinement practices, and the other modern dimensions of the age-old practice of animal agriculture. One thing that’s so different about this film is the range of access that the filmmakers got to the people running the farms and raising the animals – from factory-style pig and dairy producers in Indiana to family-operated cattle and pig farms in Iowa and Nebraska and other places in the heartland.

In the film, we hear the unfiltered views of the people who operate these facilities, along with the critics and advocates of these farming systems. Never has a documentary on farm animal agriculture probed the issues so carefully by allowing the practitioners to speak to the public and to make their respective cases.

“At the Fork” highlights some of the work of The HSUS and also Whole Foods to end the era of extreme confinement, but above all, it really seeks to put the major questions to the consumer and asks him or her to probe the important moral questions about food production and to eat with a conscience. It doesn’t shy away from the tough questions or images, but it also doesn’t subject viewers to the trauma of witnessing too much cruelty or suffering. Nor is it a polemic with a set of very predictable speeches or prescriptions – though it will provide some specific suggestions on how to eat more consciously should you, like the filmmakers who serve as the audience’s surrogates, choose to examine these issues in a serious-minded way. This is a film for the average American to see, but one that will bring surprises and twists and turns to even the most informed and educated observers of this debate.

I’ll be appearing at a showing of the film in New York next Monday, June 27th and that event will precede a launch of 75 screenings around the nation on July 13th.  Since this is a crowdsourced screening effort, the film needs your support to drive ticket sales. Tickets are on sale here — reserve a seat before July 1 to secure your local screening! (The screenings will show up as “pending” until we get enough folks to reserve their seats, so please consider sharing the news and joining us for a screening in July. And be sure to like the “At the Fork” Facebook page for updates.)

The HSUS is proud to endorse this enlightening and transformative film, and we hope that millions of Americans have a keener understanding of the food production system after watching it. Eating is a moral act, and it’s time we confront the critical questions raised by an increasingly industrialized food production system that, for most of us, we’ve have been deeply disassociated from.  It’s time for us to take a close look at food and agriculture and know what comes onto our plates and into our bodies.

Farm Animals

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  1. KIKUE NISHIO says:

    NO milk

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