The long-awaited “Eating Animals” arrives in theaters soon
Where do our eggs, dairy, and meat come from?
That’s the simple question at the start of Eating Animals, the film directed by Christopher Dillon Quinn that moved audiences to tears and standing ovations. Based on the best-selling book by Jonathan Safran Foer, and produced by Natalie Portman, it proceeds to take viewers on a grim journey into America’s factory farms, where few people have ever gone. “You come across these steel masterpieces,” Portman narrates, “all brought together in the most ingenious ways to produce more and more.”
Through intimate interviews with several local farmers, who the filmmakers say are “dedicated to bringing their trade - and the way we eat - back to its roots,” Eating Animals explores the question of where our eggs, dairy and meat could come from in the future. If more of our farmers practiced compassion, fewer turkeys would be bred to be dumb and little to no chickens would be genetically engineered to die in six weeks.
When the film premiered last year at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, it received widespread acclaim and particular attention from Alice Waters. A pioneer of the farm to table movement and an advocate for slow food culture, Waters understands the importance of connecting on these issues and helping each other be informed. She called the film’s lessons “urgent” and “mandatory.”
As Foer makes known in his book, choosing not to respond to what we see on screen is a response, in and of itself. “We are equally responsible for what we don't do,” he writes, “In the case of animal slaughter, to throw your hands in the air is to wrap your fingers around a knife handle.”
Natalie Portman, a vegetarian for most of her life and a vegan for the last seven years, believes we have an opportunity to act. She and the film stop short of asking that audiences end meat consumption. Instead, through personal accounts, the film strives to open viewers up to a world of alternatives. Among these are rapidly expanding plant-based technologies.
“I’m increasingly committed to the idea that how we treat our animals is powerfully connected to our relationship with the world itself, with the earth itself,” she said in a speech at the 27th annual Environmental Media Awards, when she appeared among honorees for the Ongoing Commitment Award.
The film, presented by Sundance Selects, is scheduled to open in theaters across the country on June 15th. We will release a full review then.