Tuesday, August 22, 2023 at 7:30pm
Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux's The Animals Film

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

The Animals Film, Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux, 1981, 16mm, 136 mins

An unrelenting catalog of human cruelty against our fellow sentient creatures, The Animals Film was touted as the first movie from the then-emerging animal liberation movement. In the annals of militant cinema, few other works have advocated for their cause with such a powerful dialectic of poetry and horror: footage of factory farming, the capture and euthanasia of strays, military and medical experimentation, and other atrocities are organized with a formal elegance that amplifies the force of these already devastating images, which are set to a narration by Julie Christie and a hypnotic original soundtrack by Robert Wyatt. “I do not know when I have come out of a screening so moved by the power of the cinema as a medium to transform the entire sensibility of an audience,” one critic wrote upon the film’s release. “Not for the squeamish,” Variety’s review bluntly warned.

More than mere fodder for the movement, The Animals Film was part of its on-the-ground efforts; Schonfeld and Alaux’s cameras follow British activists as they disrupt a fox hunt, and the filmmakers press both experts and people on the street to justify their involvement in animal abuses, whether as perpetrators or consumers. Images of a tony fur industry fashion show are intercut with documentation of forest creatures writhing in the jaws of iron traps. Interviews range from philosopher Peter Singer to McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc, with some subjects evidently unaware—at least initially—of the kind of film in which they were participating. Schonfeld was propelled to action by a brief stint working on a farm, and his resulting collaboration plays like a strange hybrid of a Chris Marker essay and a mondo movie. “The film argues that under capitalism we breed animals in numbers beyond any justification to save profit, and to this end, subject them to unnatural lives of total suffering and degradation,” Amy Taubin observed, comparing it to Georges Franju’s Blood of the Beasts. “The responsibility, as one worker in the film points out, not to love animals but respect them, is ours.”

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.